Sukkot – The Feast of Tabernacles
September 28, 2020

Feasts of Israel
The Feast of Tabernacles


As we have been studying the biblical fall feast of Israel, beginning with Rosh Hashanah, or the Feast of Trumpets, and then last week, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, that we’ll be looking at today has both an historical significance, and a prophetical fulfillment.

The feast begins on the fifteenth day of the month of Tishrei, five days after Yom Kippur, and lasts for seven days, actually eight days when we include the day of solemn rest on the day following the end of the feast.

The Hebrew word or title for this feast is “Sukkot” is translated as “booth” or “tabernacle,” and its Latin counterpart means “tent” or “hut.” It is the name of the temporary dwelling where farmers would live during the harvest, connecting it to the agricultural significance of the holiday found in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 23:14-16; 34:22-23). It is also intended as a reminder of the type of dwellings the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt (Leviticus 23:42-43).

To celebrate this feast, the Jewish people today will build temporary shelters for the duration of the feast to remember both of these events, and throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside, and many people sleep there as well.

What this reveals is the duel purpose or reason for the celebration.

The first was to celebrate the harvest.

Since the feast occurs at the end of the harvest season, it is also known as the Feast of Ingathering. In contrast to the somber mood of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, this was a time of great rejoicing as the people celebrated the final ingathering of the harvest that God had provided during the year. That is why the feast is also known as “The Season of Our Joy”.

We see this in Leviticus 23:40b where it says, “You shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:40b NKJV)

In the first part of verse 40 we see the physical symbol of this celebration.

“And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook.” (Leviticus 23:40a NKJV)

The people were to bring specific fruits, mostly a etrog, a large yellowish citrus fruit, kind of like a lemon, and then they would bind palm, willow, and myrtle branches and wave them before the Lord at the appropriate time.

The second purpose of this feast was to celebrate how God provided provision and shelter for them for the 40 years they wandered the wilderness after their Egyptian bondage before they were able to enter the Promised Land. This is also why it was a joyous occasion.

“You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 23:42-43 NKJV)

Now, there is an interesting Scripture about this time in the future and how it relates to the God’s supernatural provision and shelter.

It is the time of the reign of the Messiah that Isaiah calls beautiful, and for all those who are left in Jerusalem whom the Lord has cleansed, look at what it says.

“Then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.” (Isaiah 4:5-6 NKJV)

Note how the same was present for the children of Israel there in the wilderness.

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.” (Exodus 13:20-22 NKJV)

And so, not only did the people construct temporary dwellings, or booths, but the Lord Himself became for them a tabernacle, a covering, both day and night providing refuge and shelter.

And so, we can see the great joy that this feast should bring to our hearts as we remember God’s provision, protection, refuge, and shelter.

The one part of this celebration that is missing, however, are the sacrifices and offerings that were a part of these seven days back in the time of Jesus and before. These are listed out in the book of Numbers 29:12-38.

Additional Elements of Tabernacles

As with many of the other feasts, the Jews also developed other traditions related to the celebration of this feast, which were not prescribed by God in the Bible, but arose from oral tradition during the time of Jesus.

Two of these practices have special significance to the coming of the Messiah and Jesus’s proclamations.

The first was a water-drawing ceremony where water was drawn from the pool at Siloam during each of these feast days.

It began in the morning while the morning sacrifice was being prepared. A special procession made its way from the Temple towards the pool of Siloam. A priest carrying a golden pitcher headed it up. He then filled the pitcher full of water. They then made their way back to the Temple, passing through the Water Gate, where it was poured out at the altar of sacrifice.

On the last day of the Feast, also known as the Great Day of the feast, Jesus stood up and cried out, “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.” (John 7:37-38 NKJV)

The Apostle John then explained what Jesus said, saying, “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:39 NKJV)

The second tradition that was a part of the feast of Tabernacles was when the worshippers would make there way to the court of the women, where four very tall candelabras stood. It is said they were anywhere from 75 to 150 feet tall.

These were lit every night and since the Temple was on Mount Zion, which was above the city, everyone could see these as they illuminated the sky.

It says that the next day Jesus entered the Temple where the scribes and the Pharisees confronted Him, wanting Him to pronounce judgment upon the woman caught in the act of adultery. After saying that the person without sin should cast the first stone, and since no one did, He then told the woman that He didn’t condemn her, Jesus made this proclamation.

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)

Further References to Jesus and the Feast

And so, what we see is that Jesus is connecting this feast to Himself, the Messiah, which is seen in several other passages in the Scriptures.

In fact, the Apostle John makes this observation concerning Jesus. He starts out his gospel saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:1-5 NKJV)

And so, this title “the Word,” is a title for God the Creator, and the light of life giver. But how do we know that this is speaking about Jesus, and how does it relate to this feast, that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles?

This is seen in verse 14. It says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV)

And so, this title, “The Word,” is a title of God, and John makes it clear that this title was about Jesus. Now, the key to this understanding how Jesus then relates, and is a fulfillment of, this feast of Tabernacles, is found in the Greek word for “dwelt.” It literally means “to tabernacle.” And so, the Word, Jesus, tabernacled among us!

And so, not only was this feast to be a remembrance of God’s past miracles, provision, and protection, but also it was to point to the coming Messiah, who would in like manner be our shelter and rest.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV)

But this feast also looks towards the future coming of the Messiah and how this will be the only feast that is kept during His 1,000 year reign upon the earth.

In the Day of Judgment, God will raise up the house, or tabernacle, of David when He brings back His people into the land forever.

“On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old.” (Amos 9:11 NKJV)

And we see this fulfillment in the coming of the Messiah to rule and reign for 1,000 years.

Which may very well be why this feast will be the only feast that is kept during this time. This is found in the Old Testament book of Zechariah, the 14th chapter.

“And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be– “The Lord is one,” and His name one.” (Zechariah 14:9 NKJV)

Now the word “one” used here in how God is one, and His name is one, is the Hebrew word, “echad.” It is the same word used for God in the Shema, or telling, where it says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NKJV)

The word “one,” in both of these passages is the same and means a composite unity, that is, many which make up one, which is seen in the Scriptures describing who God is, that is, the Trinity.

But going back to our text in Zechariah, it goes on to say how this feast will be kept during these days.

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16 NKJV)

Now, last week I left off with a teaser saying how the feasts were actually a shadow of that which is to come from what the writer of Hebrews said, “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come.” (Hebrews 10:1a NKJV)

And so, the shadow of the good things to come is how the Messiah will fulfill these feasts.

A Shadow of the Coming Messiah

As I had mentioned earlier, these feasts point to something greater. Remember, Jesus said that He didn’t come to destroy the Law, of which the feasts were a part of, but to fulfill it.

Jesus not only acknowledged and attended this and the other feasts in his life, but He also has, and will fulfill them in the future after His death. Note the progression, starting with the first feast Passover.

Jesus literally died on the feast of Passover, He was buried on the feast of Unleavened Bread, and He rose from the dead on the feast of First Fruits, as the Apostle Paul declared how He was the first fruit from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20).

The fourth feast of Pentecost was the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the church, of which Jesus is the head.

The last three feasts are still to be fulfilled, but when we look at the next major events to occur within the Bible, we see these potentially being fulfilled by the second coming of the Messiah, or Jesus.

The next feast is the Feast of Trumpets, and the next major event that will occur the Bible calls the Rapture. It is when the trumpet of God will sound, when the dead in Christ will rise and we that are alive and remaining will be caught up to Jesus in the air.

Then comes Yom Kippur. After the Great Tribulation it says that Jesus will come back and redeem all Israel back unto Himself. This is the very purpose of Yom Kippur, that is the redemption of the nation of Israel.

And finally, there is the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the only feast the Bible talks about that will be celebrated in the millennium reign of Jesus Christ (Zechariah 14:16-19). And it is when Jesus will establish His throne and tabernacle in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 37:26-27), and it’s what John describes in His vision, “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22 NKJV).

And so, we are now through the Fall Feasts of Israel, or the last three in God’s prophetic timetable.

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