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Feast Of Tabernacles

The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be
the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.
Leviticus 23:34

The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is celebrated for 7 days from Tishri 15 to 21. There is a change of mood in the high holidays from sobering repentance and judgment to exuberating joy and celebration.

The people of God are commanded to build a hut (sukkah or sukkot if plural) to commemorate the booths wherein they dwelled during their journey to the Promised Land (Leviticus 23:42).

God Dwelling With Man

This same time period of Sukkot marked the beginning of the construction of God's sukkah (mishkan), the holy sanctuary in the wilderness (Exodus 35-40). The Hebraic word mishkan means tabernacle. According to the Exodus 34, Moses ascended Mount Sinai for the second period of 40 days and 40 nights to receive the second set of tablets. He descended on the day of Yom Kippur, carrying the new set as a sign of God's forgiveness of Israel for the sin of the golden calf. This Torah was a symbol of the everlasting covenant between God and Israel. The next day after Yom Kippur, Moses relayed God's instructions for building the tabernacle - His dwelling place with man.

Materials for building the tabernacle were collected during the days before Sukkot, and they begun building it (Exodus 35-36). The tabernacle was finally set up about six months later on the first day of the first month (Nisan 1) in the second year (Exodus 40:17).

Why is the tabernacle built? It is God’s desire to make Him a sanctuary so that He can dwell among us (Exodus 25:8). He instructed the building of the tabernacle in order to establish and foster the covenant relationship between Him and man.

At the dedication of Solomon's temple during the festival of Sukkot, Solomon asked, "Will God indeed dwell on the earth?" (1 Kings 8:2, 27) This was fulfilled when Yeshua became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us (John 1:14). At His first coming, He came to earth and dwelt among men for more than thirty years.

Biblical Records Of Tabernacle Reference
Yeshua tabernacled among us. John 1:14
Peter spoke about his body being a tabernacle. 2 Peter 1:13-14
Paul told us that our earthly bodies were earthly tabernacles. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
The tabernacle of Moses was a tent of habitation. Acts 7:44;
Hebrews 9:2-8
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in tabernacles. Hebrews 11:8-9
The tabernacle of David was a tent or dwelling place. Acts 15:16;
Amos 9:11
This tabernacle was the temple of Solomon. 1 Kings 5:2-5;
Yeshua entered the temple on the Feast of Sukkot. John 7:2, 27-29
The Bible speaks of a heavenly tabernacle. Hebrews 8:1-2; Revelation 13:6; 15:5
This heavenly tabernacle will come to earth. Revelation 21:1-3
Yeshua is the true Tabernacle of God. Hebrews 9:11

The Divine Covering And Protection

The Sukkah is a remembrance of the continuous Presence of the Lord dwelling with His people throughout their wilderness experience. 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 13:21-22). This omnipresent covering of God is known as the baptism in the cloud (1 Corinthians 10:1-2).

The Tabernacle of God is fulfilled when God dwelt inside man in the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Everywhere we go, we see Him - any time, any place.

The Son of Man is coming with the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13, Revelation 1:7). Herein the clouds can both represent the believers in Messiah (Hebrews 12:1) and also the glory of the Lord Himself. The cloud is also seen as a wedding canopy (chupah).

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

The clouds in the wilderness are called the clouds of glory. The sukkah is therefore a picture of our dwelling with God in His glorious kingdom in the Millennium.

Themes Of Sukkot

  • The Season of Our Joy
  • The Festival of Ingathering
  • The Feast of the Nations
  • The Festival of Dedication
  • The Festival of Lights

The Season Of Our Joy

The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is called the Season of Our Joy.

After forty days of repentance (30 days of Elul and the Ten Days of Awe) and with our sins forgiven, Sukkot is truly a time of great joy. We can rejoice as we walk with God without sins and hindrances. The people of God would have all perished if not for His mercy and His grace. We are divinely protected by God. This is the joy of being His people and Him being our God.

This joy is so great that Sukkot became known as The Feast (John 7:37). In fact, we are commanded to rejoice in The Feast (Deuteronomy 16:13-15). While all of the Feasts of the Lord are times of rejoicing, Sukkot is specifically designated as the Season of Our Rejoicing or the Season of Our Joy.

The Festival Of Ingathering

Sukkot is the fall harvest festival. Like the other Feasts of the Lord, Sukkot also has agricultural significance. It marks the time of the harvest, the final ingathering of produce before the arrival of winter. Hence, it is also called the Festival of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16).

Sukkot is the time when the harvests of the fields, orchards and vineyards are gathered in. The granaries, threshing floors, wine and olive presses are filled with the fruit of their labor. Months of toil and sweat are rewarded with abundant harvest. Every farmer is elated with joy. This is the Season of Our Rejoicing.

In Isaiah 4:2, it speaks of the righteous ones who have escaped destruction. They are harvested before the rest are thrown the great winepress of the wrath of God (Rev. 14:15-20).

Yeshua told us that the harvest would be at the end of the age (Olam Hazeh). This is found in Matthew 13:39 and Revelation 14:15. The harvest refers to believers who accept the Messiah into their hearts (Matthew 9:35-38; Luke 10:1-2; John 4:35-38; Revelation 14:14-18). This harvest is the ingathering of both Jews and non-Jews. But right now, many of them are in the valley of decision (Joel 3:13-14).

Jeremiah grieved for a people who were not a part of the harvest. The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and they are not saved! (Jeremiah 8:18-22).

There is a Jewish custom of inviting symbolic guests (ushpizin) each day to join the family in the Sukkah. It is required by the law of hospitality (Hachnasat Orechim). These seven honorary guests are namely Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David. One guest is invited each day of Sukkot.

Both Jews and non-Jews will live in the Messianic Kingdom wherein they will see face to face Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. What a joy it will be to meet the heroes of our faith as we live with the Messiah during the Messianic era!

The Feast Of The Nations

Sukkot will be celebrated by all the nations on earth during the Messianic age (Zechariah 14:16-18). It is therefore called the Feast of the Nations.

The future observance of Sukkot by the nations of the world rests upon Israel's election and mission. It is the primary purpose of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12:1-3). – "in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

From Abraham, God raised up a nation of people, Israel, to be a blessing to the nations. That promise was fulfilled through a Jew named Yeshua. The greatest evangelism in the history of the world will be when 144,000 anointed members from the 12 tribes of Israel fulfil their responsibility in proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of heaven to the nations (Revelation 14:1-7).

Sukkot is about world missions and world evangelization. The headcount of the house of Jacob who went into Egypt was seventy (Genesis 46:27). It was there that they became a nation. In Numbers 29:12-35, a total of 70 bulls were offered on the altar during the week of Sukkot. These 70 bulls represented all the 70 nations existent in the earth there and then. When Solomon dedicated the temple during Sukkot, the seventy nations of the world were welcomed to participate and celebrate in the Feast (1 Kings 8:41-43).

One amazing thing about Sukkot is the sacrifices being offered during the period (Numbers 29). When the offerings are grouped or counted, their number always remains divisible by seven. There are 182 sacrifices (70 bullocks, 14 rams, and 98 lambs; totally 182 which is divisible by 7). The meal offerings totals 336 tenths of ephahs of flour, which is also divisible by 7. By no coincidence that this seven-day holiday, which takes place at the height of the seventh month, has the perfect number of seven imprinted on its sacrifices.

Sukkot is a picture of the Messianic Kingdom. As the Sabbath falls on the seventh day of the week, the Messianic Kingdom will fall on the seventh millennium. With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8).

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:9-10

The Feast Of Dedication

King Solomon dedicated the temple during Sukkot (1 Kings 8). Therefore, this festival is also called the Feast of Dedication.

It was during Sukkot when worship was restored as the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity. They embarked on the reconstruction of the temple (Ezra 3).

The Festival Of Lights

Another ceremony in Sukkot was the illumination of the temple. According to the Mishnah, at the end of the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests and the Levites would go down to the court of the women. Four enormous golden candlesticks, each 50 cubits or about 75 feet high, were set up on the court. Four golden bowls were placed upon them. Four ladders were laid resting against each candlestick.

Four youths of priestly descent ascended to the top of the ladders holding jars containing about 7.5 gallons of pure oil. They then poured the oil for each bowl. The priests and Levites used their own worn-out liturgical clothing for wicks. The light radiating from these four candles was so bright that it lighted up every courtyard in Jerusalem.

The mood was festive and joyous. Even the most pious members of the Sanhedrin and heads of religious schools would dance well into the night, holding bright torches and singing psalms of praise to God. Jerusalem shone like a diamond that night and her light could be seen from afar.

This light represents the Shekinah glory that once filled the temple where God's presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 8:10-11; Ezekiel 43:5). During that time, the temple was said to be the light of the world. It was during this time of the year, in the background of the gloriously lit temple that Yeshua declared, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).

In addition, during the same Sukkot celebration, in the court of the women of the temple between the four posts of light, some accusers brought to Yeshua a woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11). Yeshua wrote a message on the ground that drove all the accusers home. What did Yeshua write? The answer is in Jeremiah 17:13:

O LORD, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You shall be ashamed.
Those who depart from Me
Shall be written in the earth,
Because they have forsaken the LORD,
The fountain of living waters.

Yeshua taught the people the true message of the Feast. Those who forsake God shall be ashamed. Light has nothing to do with darkness. The evil deeds of the accusers were exposed. They were trying to trap Jesus as they set up their case against the adulteress.

Israel was chosen to be God's light to the nations (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). That’s why God blessed them to be a blessing to the world. God would use them to show His glory to the world. Israel's mission was and still is to proclaim to the world that the God of Israel is the only true God, and there is no other Savior besides Him (Acts 4:10,12).

But Israel failed in her mission to be a witness to the world. Not only were the people disobedient to the commandments of God, they were also not good examples to follow. They did not become a light to the world. The world hated the Jewish people for their arrogance and pride. They even rejected Yeshua, the Light of the world when He came as one of them, showing them lovingly the way back to God.

Although Israel failed in her mission, this is not a permanent failure. In fact, God has turned this setback into a blessing to all nations. Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:25-26). Israel still remains as God's chosen people, and has a major role to play in the future of the world (Romans 11:12-15).

The prophet Isaiah spoke of a future time when Israel would be used by God to bring the message of Messiah to the nations (Isaiah 62:1-5). Israel will be a blessing to all nations at that time (Isaiah 19:23-25).

Jerusalem will become the spiritual focal point of the world. This will be Israel's Golden Age when the King of Jerusalem, also called the Prince of Peace, reigns in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3).

The day is coming when Israel will be restored and renewed once again be a light to the nations!