After the Exodus from Egypt, when the children of Israel and the mixed multitude were in the desert, God directed Moses to have them build a tabernacle, so that God could dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8) God still wishes to dwell among His people. This point is shown in the final annual sabbath holy days of God’s calendar, which are the first and last days of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is the 7th feast of the year, in the 7th month, and lasts for seven days. Seven is the number for perfection, completion. The eighth day is a special day called Shemini Atzeret.
Beginning this year on October 15 (this article was written in 2011) and continuing for eight days, this is a feast of rejoicing which follows the very solemn period of the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur which we have just finished. We are specifically told to rejoice in Leviticus 23:40, which says, “ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days”. Lest you’ve come to believe that this feast was not to be celebrated after the resurrection of Yeshua, consider Leviticus 23:41, which says, “it shall be a statue forever.” Zechariah 14, prophesying of a time period after the second coming of the Messiah, talks of keeping (verse 16), smiting those who don’t keep (verse 18), and punishment of those who don’t keep (verse 19) the feast of tabernacles.
The Feast of Tabernacles is called Sukkot in Hebrew, which means “booths” or “temporary dwellings”. After the Day of Atonement, we are to begin constructing a sukkah (the singular of sukkot) in which we dwell during these seven days. The threefold purpose of living (at least part time) in the sukkah is to remind us that: 1) the escapees from Egypt had temporary dwellings as they sojourned in the desert, yet they were protected and cared for in the very presence of Elohim (God), 2) by being open to the elements, we are reminded that Elohim is our only true source of protection, and 3) our possessions and our life on this earth are temporary, and we should not cling to that which is not eternal.
Water was a prominent component of the feast. Each morning, the priests had a water drawing ceremony. As they were pouring out the water, they would recite Isaiah 12:2-3, which speaks of “water out of the wells of salvation”. Reminder: salvation is translated from the Hebrew name for Jesus, Yeshua, as I shared in a prior column. On the eighth and final day, the priests would bring a sevenfold amount of water for the pouring ceremony. It was on this same day, and in this context, that Yeshua made his proclamation found in John 7:37-38, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” This caused quite a stir among the people (as told in verses 39-53), as it was apparent that he was declaring that he was the promised salvation of which they were reciting. Yet without knowing the role that water played on this particular day, much of the meaning of that statement is lost on modern day Christians.
Another interesting thing about the Feast of Tabernacles is that there is a lot of evidence that points to Yeshua having been born during the Feast of Tabernacles. That is a point that will take a full article itself to show, so keep watching this column for more information on that in the future. But as a teaser, check out John 1:14, where we are told the he “dwelt” among us. The word for “dwelt” comes from the Greek word “skenoo”, Strong’s 4637, which means “to tent”, the root word, Strong’s 4636, meaning “hut or temporary residence” – the very meaning of sukkot.
It is also likely that the first Thanksgiving by the Pilgrims was a Feast of Tabernacles. The two holidays are very similar in decoration and focus, but again, to adequately demonstrate that fact would take more space than this column can handle, so maybe we’ll touch on it in the future as well.
Just as all of the other holy days had a past application to the children of Israel, and to Yeshua or the early church, they also point to future events. The prophetic significance of the Feast of Tabernacles is to be the celebration for the marriage supper of the lamb. After the second coming has occurred (Day of Trumpets) and the final judgment has passed (Yom Kippur), Yeshua will take us off to dwell (Tabernacle) with Him permanently. What a day of rejoicing that will be!
I hope you will join me in looking forward to that momentous event by rejoicing during the Feast of Tabernacles this week. See you at the feasts!