How many countless billions have gone to their grave not knowing what lies beyond? How many mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mourned their loved ones who have died, not knowing whether they would ever see them again? The Eighth Day, which is one of the most meaningful yet least understood Holy Days by mankind, points to the ultimate culmination of God’s plan: the resurrection and judgment of the vast majority of all the human beings who have ever lived. The destruction of death. The casting away of sadness and mourning. It is a hope the world desperately needs and it will be fulfilled at the culmination of God’s plan of salvation for mankind.
The Bible is filled with symbolism, giving hints of God’s mind. The symbolism of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25), the cherubim at God’s throne (Ezekiel 1), the creation itself (Romans 1:18). Some things about God are able to be understood easily, some things can only be spiritually discerned, and some things are not knowable at this time (Isaiah 55:8). Still, God does show us many wonderful and inspiring things about His plan of salvation for all of mankind.
The Eighth Day, which is specified as being kept at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles in Leviticus 23:33, is the culmination of all the Holy Days. Following the description of the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, it says: “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.” The Eighth Day is separate and distinct from the Feast of Tabernacles. God has placed symbolic meaning in counting up to the number eight. Why don’t we just go back to one after counting the seven days? Because that is not what God is portraying. He is not portraying a weekly cycle with the Feast of Tabernacles. Instead, He is showing what it means to finally arrive at the Eighth Day. What does that number mean? Looking through the rest of the Bible, we find various illustrations that help open up the meaning of that great day.
From Circumcision to Nazirites
One of the most enduring covenants God made was the covenant of circumcision with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-11). He said, “He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised.” Being circumcised on the eighth day was symbolic of being in complete submission to God. Today, we know physical circumcision is not required for salvation for all people (Acts 15), but it is also true that circumcision is a symbol of our spiritual commitment and focus. Paul wrote, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28-29). Paul is talking about righteousness, and being in complete submission to God.
Another example of the number eight is with Noah. In his second book, Peter writes to the Church, warning them about false preachers. He makes the point that each individual will be responsible for their own salvation, and he uses Noah as an example: “And [God] spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5, King James Version). Noah was saved because he was in complete submission to God. Seven other people were saved on the ark but not because of their own righteousness—only the eighth was saved because of righteousness. Peter’s point is that in the eternal judgment, each of us will be saved in response to our own righteousness, not anyone else’s, like the other seven in the Ark.
Another example of the number eight is in Exodus when God told Israel: “You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me” (Exodus 22:29). But when did He say to give these? The next verse reveals: “Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.” The first seven days were for preparation, counting toward and looking forward to the eighth day, when the offering of the firstborn was to be given to God. But it was not only on the eighth day that the firstborn offering could be made, it was from there on after (Leviticus 22:26). From eight days onward, the sacrifice could be made. Likewise, the fulfillment of the Eighth Day shows that God’s Kingdom will be eternal. It will begin, but never end.
As we know, God will build another temple complex in Jerusalem during the Millennium (Ezekiel 40 begins the description of that vision). In that vision, God explains what it will take to purify the altar before sacrifices can be made: seven days worth of offerings for sin offerings for the priests and for the altar (Ezekiel 43:18-27). Only then—on the eighth day—will the altar be consecrated and God will accept the burnt offerings and peace offerings made there. There is a similar seven-day period of consecration for the priests described in Leviticus 8, where Moses first prepared Aaron and his sons for their service as priests to God at the tabernacle. After being washed, clothed in the priestly garments, and sprinkled with blood, they stayed in the tabernacle for seven days. “And you shall not go outside the door of the tabernacle of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are ended. For seven days he shall consecrate you” (Leviticus 8:33). After this, they came out on the eighth day and made a sin offering for the people. The seven days were the time of preparation so that on the eighth day they could begin to fulfill what they had been prepared to do.
There are many examples of the meaning of the number eight in God’s Word. The Nazirite vow included instructions on what to do if someone who had taken that vow became defiled by accident or because of circumstances beyond their control. It included seven days of purification, with an offering made on the eighth day. The steps for the cleansing of lepers or other unclean people was also seven days of sanctification, and an offering was to be given on the eighth day. On the eighth day the process would be complete.
The Ultimate Focus of God’s Plan
We tend to focus on day number seven because we look to the return of Jesus Christ. We want to be done with the trials, the stresses and the troubles of this life and to see our redemption into glory. We want to rise to meet Christ in the air. These are things we should indeed look forward to and long for. But the plan of God does not focus ultimately on the return of Jesus Christ. That is incredibly important, but God the Father putting His throne on this earth on the Eighth Day is what everything ultimately moves toward. Christ’s return is part of the process. It’s pretty clear—seven days to cleanse, to consecrate, to prepare. But the eighth day is the broader, fuller restoration to God. It was on that day that males were circumcised. That is when the priests were allowed to begin to make sacrifices. That is when the firstborn offerings were to begin to be offered. That is when the Nazirites and those who were cleansed were restored to God. The symbolism of the Eighth Day, laid out like fingerprints throughout God’s Word, is incredibly significant.
Counterfeit Veneration of Eight
Of importance to keep in mind with this topic is the counterfeit use of the number eight by Satan. In the end of this age, the false religion of Babylon described in Revelation 17 portrays Satan ruling over the earth before Christ’s return. That passage also describes seven kings: “They are also seven kings…The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction” (Revelation 17:10-11, New International Version). That false religious system of Babylon is the eighth of those kings. Coincidence?
The pollution of Christianity that came from gnosticism (among other things) honored the number eight. One of the first false epistles, called the Epistle of Barnabas, argued on behalf of the eighth day and its importance. This false reverence of the number eight is what led to Sunday worship in Christianity by the Catholic Church. Samuel Bacchiocchi’s book Sabbath to Sunday describes the Epistle of Barnabas, noting that the first and primary argument for the change from Sabbath to Sunday was the number eight. Secondarily was the argument that Christ rose on Sunday (which is modernly held to as the reason for the change). Later, Jerome argued that the number seven represented Judaism and the law, and the eighth day represented the gospel, so therefore, he argued, Christians must do away with the law. Now I say that the Sabbath for practicing Jews is still Saturday, but for Christians who gather together on Sunday gather together on the Lord’s day or on the eighth day!
Satan has counterfeited God’s ways in many, many ways to lead people astray. False Christs, false ministers, false brethren, false doctrines, false churches—they are all counterfeits of what God has put in place. But God’s meaning in the number eight is still special, no matter what Satan might try to foist on the world. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. The throne of God will be with His family, and He will rule with Jesus Christ for eternity. Of the increase of His government, there will be no end (Isaiah 9:7).
The billions who have died not knowing what to expect will come up in the resurrection of the Great White Throne Judgment and know God. Those who lost loved ones will meet them again. There will be no more sadness, pain or mourning (Revelation 21:4). That Kingdom will last forever:
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 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” (Revelation 22:1-5).
God’s plan looks forward to the fulfillment of what the Eighth Day pictures. Which will lead to the meaning of the number nine, (Lord willing more to come) which is the eternal reign of God and Jesus Christ, the new heaven and the new earth, with all mankind having the opportunity to have been purified and set apart to live forever. God speed that day.