The Feast of Tabernacles lasts for seven days with the last day called “Hashanna Rabba” which means the Great Hosanna. Hosanna means “save now” so the last day is the “great save now” where the Israelites cry out to God for salvation.
Part of the ceremony of the Feast is the ritual of water pouring which developed out of the words of Isaiah 12:3, “And with joy you shall draw water out of the wells of salvation.” The high priest carrying a golden pitcher and his assistant carrying a silver pitcher with wine in it went down to the pool of Siloam. The way to the pool was lined with the Jewish pilgrims to the feast waving their lulavs, a bouquet of the four species Israel was told to use in their rejoicing in the Feast (Lev. 23:40). The high priest dipped his pitcher into the pool drawing out living water.
Living water is water that flows. It has a continual inflow and outflow. A cistern, for example, would not be living water. The pools for washing at the temple were designed to be constantly flowing. The pool of Siloam was fed by the spring Gihon and so was living water. The word Siloam means “Sent” and Gihon which is the name of one of the rivers flowing out of the Garden of Eden means “to gush or break forth, to labor to bring forth.” The living water from the pool of Siloam can be seen as a symbol of Jesus. It breaks forth from the Garden of Eden sent to bring salvation.
The High priest and his assistant proceed ceremoniously back to the temple with the pitchers of water and wine where they will be met by another group of priests who had gone down to the valley east of Jerusalem and cut 30 feet tall willow branches. The two groups meet in the temple around the altar. The High priest and his assistant proceed up the ramp to the altar while the other priests march around the altar with their willow branches. The people join in around them waving their lulavs. All are singing a combination of Isaiah 12:3, the song of Moses from Exodus 15:1-2, and the Hallelujah Psalms, Psalms 113-118. They finish with Psalm 118.
Psalms 118:25-29 KJV 25 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. 27 God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. 28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. 29 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
As they sing the final verse, the people lift their lulavs and wave them toward the altar. This ceremony was conducted each day of the feast. On each of the first six days, the priests circled the altar only once. On the last great day, they circled seven times. It is at this time on the great day of the Feast as the worshippers completed their final circuit of the altar in the pause at the end of the song that “Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38)
The Israelites recognized this as a Messianic claim. Ezekiel writes of a river of living water flowing from the temple in the days of Messiah (Eze. 47). Zechariah writes of Living water flowing from Jerusalem in the days of Messiah (Zech. 14) Jeremiah says that the LORD Himself is a spring of living water.
Jeremiah 17:13 KJV 13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.
On this great day of the Feast, what were the reactions of the Israelites? John tells us that some believed He was the Christ, the Messiah. Others didn’t know what to believe. They would have six months before Passover to make their decisions.
When Jesus came into Jerusalem on the tenth of Nisan, four days before Passover, He was greeted with pilgrims lining the streets waving palm branches before Him, shouting “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD, Hosanna, Blessed is the King of Israel.” Waving palm branches was not something that was done at Passover. Remember those lulavs from the Feast of Tabernacles? They were made up willow, myrtle and palm branches and the citron fruit. The willow and the myrtle would not yet have leaves at the time of Passover but the Palm tree would. Their greeting of Jesus at this time was more like the ceremony of water pouring at the Feast of Tabernacles! Further, the sages say that one of the reasons they were to rejoice with lulavs was to remember that even creation recognizes and praises God.
Luke records that during this triumphant entry into Jerusalem that some of the Pharisees cried out for Jesus to rebuke his disciples. What was Jesus’ response?
Luke 19:40 KJV 40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
On a future Feast of Tabernacles, the words of Ezekiel and Jeremiah will come true; living water will flow from the temple in Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 47:12 NASB 12 "And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing."
Isaiah 44:23 MKJV 23 Sing, O heavens; for the LORD has done it. Shout, lower parts of the earth. Break out into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it. For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart
Come with Brenda and I next June 19th to 29th to Israel, the land promised to Abraham for a special tour where you will see the promised Messiah of Israel like you have never seen Him before! We will visit places off the beaten path and follow in the foot steps of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Join us as we also explore the people, culture, politics and conflict that is today’s Israel and a special Sabbath day in Jerusalem. For details on the tour visit www.theheartofisrael.com .