Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reasons for Christians to Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles: Part One

(This essay is part of our book titled “Reasons for Christians to Celebrate the Biblical Feasts”.  It is available from and on our web site at This series of essays is designed to give the Christian an understanding of the Biblical Feasts and how they are connected to Jesus the Messiah.)

This year the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Sukot, begins tonight at local sunset.  The Feast of Tabernacles is the seventh and last Feast in the Feast cycles which began in the spring with Passover. The month of Passover is the first month on the religious or redemption calendar established when Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt. The Feast of Tabernacles is in the seventh month and lasts for seven days. That’s three sevens here. Seven is the number of completion and three is the number of divine completion. The Feast of Tabernacles is a rehearsal of the completion of God’s divine plan of salvation. Let’s see how God reveals this in the establishment of the feast.

Leviticus 23:39-40 MKJV 39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. 40 And you shall take the fruit of majestic trees for yourselves on the first day, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.

The Jewish people use the branches of the palm, willow and Myrtle along with the citron called a lulav to show rejoicing before God. The Jewish sages say this is in recognition that God is the Creator. He can be seen in the works of creation (Rom. 1:19-20) and creation itself worships God. (Ps. 19:1, Hab. 2:14, Luke 19:37-40) As we rejoice before the LORD during the Feast of Tabernacles, we look forward to when “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is LORD (Phil. 2:11)

Isaiah says that all creation will burst out in praise when God finishes His plan for redemption.

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.

Lev. 23:41-44 MKJV 41 And you shall keep it a feast to the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall keep it in the seventh month. 42 You shall live in booths seven days. All that are born Israelites shall live in booths, 43 so that your generations may know that I made the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. 44 And Moses declared the feasts of the LORD to the sons of Israel.

The observance of the feast manifests itself in the Israelites living in booths, tents or huts so that they will remember that God had them live in booths when they were brought out of Egypt. Again, the Israelite left the trappings of civilization and lived close to nature observing God in all their surroundings. But what was there about their time in the wilderness that should be brought to mind?

First, this was a time when God miraculously provided all their needs. Manna rained down from heaven, water flowed out from a rock, and their clothing did not wear out. During the millennial reign of the Messiah, the ground of Israel will produce bountiful food (Jer. 31:12-14). Rain will be provided for all those who come up to Jerusalem to worship God during the Feast of Tabernacles (Zec. 14:16-18). After the thousand years, God will recreate the heavens and earth, and the tree of life will grow on both sides of the river of life. It will bear fruit each month which will be for the healing of the nations.  (Rev. 22:1-3)  The Feast of Tabernacles is a rehearsal for the millennial reign of the Messiah and the ultimate recreation of the heavens and the earth.

Second, this was a time when God Himself dwelt in the midst of their camp. The Tabernacle of God was literally right in the center of the camp. The pillar of cloud provided shelter during the day and the pillar of fire provided light during the night. When Jesus comes back, He will dwell in Jerusalem in the midst of the people. He will rule and reign with truth and righteousness. Isaiah describes Jerusalem after the final battle and restoration this way:

Isaiah 4:5-6 MKJV 5 And the LORD will create over all the site of Mount Zion, and on her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for on all the glory shall be a defense. 6 And there shall be a booth for a shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge, and for a hiding place from storm and rain.

This is a perfect description of the time Israel dwelt in the wilderness and God was in their midst.

This feast more than any others was to be observed with rejoicing. During the time of Jesus, the feast was a 24 hour a day seven day non-stop celebration. The temple was lit up with huge torches lighting up the entire countryside. Jerusalem was called the “Light of the World.” Jesus, our “Light of the World” will come and be the light from Jerusalem. When the earth is recreated and the heavenly Jerusalem comes down to join heaven to earth, there will be no need for light from the sun or the moon (Rev 21:22-23).

As we rejoice during the feast, we look forward to the return of Messiah and the redeemed who go up to Zion. Isaiah says, “Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return and come with singing into Zion; and everlasting joy shall be on their head. Gladness and joy shall overtake them; sorrow and mourning shall flee away (Is. 51:11) This will be a time of rejoicing such as never has been!

Let’s rehearse the joyful time when Jesus our Messiah will begin His reign on earth. Let’s look 1000 years beyond that to the new creation where death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:54)

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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