THE FESTIVAL OF TABERNACLES
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Sukkot is a great assurance for us, for it is about the return of Christ,
and His glorious worldwide kingdom that is soon to replace of kingdom of
Satan – a kingdom of enormous darkness.
SUKKOT is a 7+1 day festival. It is the final of the seven “Feasts of
Yahweh” which Israel was commanded to keep in perpetuity.
The general Hebrew word for “feast” is chag (pronounced
as hag with a guttural h); but the LORD
also refers to His feasts as moed, meaning “appointed time.”
"These feasts are the appointed times of YHWH, holy
convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for
them.” (Leviticus 23:4)
So they are specific appointments for His people to keep. If the King or
Queen gave anyone a set appointment, they would be not be figuring out an
excuse for not attending, would they? How much more important is an
appointment with the LORD of Glory!
The Feasts of the LORD were given to Israel, but they have important
lessons for us all today, and one first lesson is that out Heavenly
Master greatly desires to meet with us every day! Moreover He wants to
dwell in us, and that we live and have our being in Him.
“Tabernacles” follows the six earlier festivals –
3. The Waving of
5. Trumpets, and
6. Yom Kippur (the
Day of Atonement).
comes the seventh -
7. Sukkot – the
Feast of Tabernacles or Booths.
But someone will argue, “So what? They may be good for Israel, but what have
they to do with the Church – with us today?”
The significance is that all the seven festivals are fulfilled in the past,
present and future ministry of Y’shua, our Messiah. (“Messiah” means
the same as Christ - the Anointed One.)
Look! Here’s the significance of the feasts in relation to our Saviour, and
to us who are believers …
The Passover Lamb is fulfilled by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God
at Calvary. (1 Cor 5:7)
The week of Unleavened Bread pictures the sanctifying work of
Christ in His redeemed people. (Rom 6:22, 1 Cor 1:30)
The Waving of the Firstfruits of the Barley harvest was
fulfilled in the Resurrection of Y’shua – and He is the firstfruits
of the resurrection of His people at His coming. (1 Cor 15:20, 23)
Shavuot – Pentecost
was a wheat harvest festival, and it was fulfilled by the Messiah’s
outpouring of His Spirit on the new Body – the Church - on the
day of Pentecost. (John 7:39. 14:16. Acts 2:1-4, 17)
The Day of Trumpets
will be fulfilled by the sound of the trumpet at the Rapture.
(1 Thess 4:16)
Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is fulfilled by the Messiah’s saving work
at Calvary, and when Y’shua entered the HOLY of HOLIES in Heaven on our
behalf. (Heb 2:17. 9:11-14).
Sukkot – Tabernacles will be fulfilled when Y’shua returns to establish the
Millennial Kingdom of God on earth; that is, when God tabernacles (dwells)
amongst His people. And it is already being fulfilled in the present
dispensation as Y’shua indwells His people. (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19. Eph 3:17).
In this issue of Maranatha Hope of Glory, let us see what is
behind Sukkot and why it is a blessed and joyful festival. The Jews
celebrate it in their own way. But we will want to enjoy in a New Covenant
way – for “Christ is in you the Hope of
Glory” (Col 1:27); and we surely pray daily,
“Your kingdom come.” (Matt 6:10.
KINGDOM OF GOD.
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
Also called, THE FEAST OF BOOTHS,
AND THE FEAST OF INGATHERING.
Biblical dates - 15 to 22nd of the 7th month
YEAR (2014) THE SUKKOT DATES WERE - OCT. 9-16.
word Sukkot is the plural form of sukka which means tent or
booth – a temporary dwelling place. Tabernacles is mentioned in
Scriptures more than any other Feast.
Israel, Sukkot was a celebration of God’s provisions throughout the 40 years
of wilderness wandering when the people lived in booths – huts made of tree
branches or tents. But Sukkot also looks forward to the Millennial Age when
Y’shua tabernacles (dwells) in the midst of His people, and when He will be
King over all the earth. (Revelation 21:3)
was one of the three mandatory annual PILGRIM FEASTS for ISRAEL.
times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. You shall observe the
Feast of Unleavened Bread. (Passover week) … Also you shall observe
the Feast of the Harvest (Shavuot/Pentecost) of the first
fruits of your labours from what you sow in the field; also the
Feast of the Ingathering (Tabernacles season) at the end of the year
when you gather in the fruit of your labours from the field.
Three times a year all your males shall appear before your Master,
Adonai Yahweh.” (Exodus
There could be 2½ million
crowded into Jerusalem for these major
All three feasts included an essential harvest dedication and thanksgiving;
the barley harvest, the wheat harvest, and the fruit harvest.
The Thanksgiving harvest festivals observed in the US, and in
churches in a number of countries, are fashioned after Sukkot.
command and requirement for the Feast of Sukkot is given in Leviticus
23:33-43 and Numbers 29:12-39.
The Feast of Sukkot began "on the 15th day of the 7th
month, Tishrei.” It continued for seven days as a
to this 7-day event, an 8th day was added.
“For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to
YHWH. On the eighth day you shall have a holy con-vocation
and present an offering by fire to YHWH. It is a solemn, final
assembly. You shall do no laborious work on it.”
were six specific directions given for the keeping of the feast – which
could be fulfilled after they erected the Tabernacle according to God’s
specifications, and later, when they entered the land and occupied Jerusalem
where YHWH would place His Name forever. (1 Chron 7:16)
Israelites were to make, and to live in BOOTHS during the seven days
of the Feast. This was to cause them to remember their past wilderness
“You shall live in booths for seven days; all the
native-born in Israel shall
live in booths, so
that your generations may know that I caused the sons of Israel to live in
booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am YHWH your God.”
Eating the first meal of Sukkot, on the first evening, became a mandatory
practice for Jews. And the people were encouraged to spend more time
eating and living in their booths than in their homes during those
We believers today
have reason to look back and see how the Master has brought us through a
and the 8th days were to be HOLY CONVOCATIONS – like
Sabbaths, they were to be days of rest - and for spending time with the
“On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do not
laborious work on it. … You shall celebrate the feast of YHWH for
seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.”
(Lev 23: 35, 39)
Burnt offerings and SACRIFICES
were to be presented to Yahweh on each of the eight days. Specifically, on
each of the seven days, 2 rams, 14 lambs, and 1 goat were to be
presented to the LORD as sacrifices.
also were to be sacrificed in decreasing numbers – specifically: on 1st
day 13 bulls, on the 2nd day 12, 3rd day 11, 4th
day 10, 5th day 9, 6th day 8, and the 7th
day 7. (That was,
On the 8th day, it was to be 1 ram, 1 goat, 7 lambs, and 1
bull . (That brings
189 animals over the eight days. (Numbers 29:12-39). Although there were
many individual sacrifices as well, Sukkot was a contrast to the Passover
when every family had to bring a lamb.)
But why were so many animals slaughtered?
It illustrated, to some degree, the huge cost of redemption of God’s people,
Israel. But more, those sacrifices were a type or picture of the sacrifice
of Y’shua who paid such an enormous cost for the forgiveness of the sins of
As the old hymn says:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
save me from its guilt and
Not the labour of my hands, can fulfil Thy law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
for sin could not atone.
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
and harvest OFFERINGS
were to be presented to the Lord.
‘You shall present these to YHWH at your appointed times,
besides your vowed offerings and your freewill offerings.”
The people were to REJOICE, with the
waving of beautiful foliage and palm branches, to celebrate God’s
past goodness, and His present provision. There were four types of trees
“Now on the first
day you shall take for yourselves the fruit (or foliage) of beautiful trees, and palm branches, boughs of leafy trees
and willows of the
brook; and you
shall rejoice before YHWH your God for seven days.”
(the 5 books of Moses) was to be read publically to all Israel
during the Feast of Tabernacles every 7th (sabbatical) year.
“Then Moses commanded them, saying, ‘At the end of every seven years,
at the time of the year of cancelling debts, during the Feast of
Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before YHWH your God at the
place He will choose, you shall read this Torah (teaching and instruction)
in front of all Israel in their hearing.
‘Assemble the people, the men, the women and children. and the
aliens staying in your town, so that they can listen and learn to fear YHWH
your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this Torah.
‘Their children, who have not known this teaching, will
hear and learn to fear YHWH your God, as long as you live on the land which
you are about to cross the Jordan to possess’.”
Nearly 500 years after the Law was given, King Solomon dedicated the
first temple, on the Feast of Tabernacles (2 Chron 5:3. 7:8-9), and the
Shekinah glory filled the temple. (2 Chron 5:13-14)
In Solomon’s temple the Shekinah was the Presence of Yahweh dwelling in His
time of Messiah, tens of thousands of pilgrims would set up their individual
booths in the streets and fields, all within ½ mile from the Temple, in
preparation for the festival. With their camp fires burning it was an
Sukkot festival began with the blast of the shofar at sunset, which was the
beginning of the first day.
Tabernacles marked the normal beginning of the Winter rains, there was great
anticipation that Yahweh would send the needed rains again. The need for
rain gave rise to a Sukkot custom that was not a part of the
commandments. It is called …
THE WATER POURING CEREMONY
This ceremony was being carried out during the Temple period, in the time of
Y’shua. In this practice, each morning of the first six days of Sukkot, an
appointed priest, accompanied by a joyful band of musicians and worshipers,
marched from the Temple Mount down the Kidron Valley to the Pool of Siloam
where pitchers (vessels) were filled with water. The priest filled his
golden pitcher and then climbed back up to the Temple Mount where the water
was poured into a bowl that drained into the altar. That was followed by
three blasts of silver trumpets, which signaled the start of the temple
music, and singing by the people of the Hallel – Psalms 113 to 118.
had historical significance as David was anointed king with water from the
Spring of Gihon which ran into the pool of Siloam; and subsequently, kings
of his lineage were anointed with water from Siloam.
final (7th) day of Sukkot was a special occasion called
Hoshanah Rabbah – the Day of the Great Hosanna. (Hosanna means
The priest, coming in from the Siloam pool, handed the pitcher of water to
priest who poured it into a silver vessel on the altar. As this was taking
place, the priests were blowing three sets of seven blasts from the silver
trumpets, and Levites, along with the people, were singing the words of
Isaiah 12:3 in unison;
joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”
was followed by great rejoicing with the people and priests waving palm
branches. Thereafter the people listened as a choir of Levites sang the
rabbis interpreted the pouring out of the water as a symbol of the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Israel in the last days, relating it to
scriptures such as:
“For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods
on the dry ground. I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants, and My
blessing on your offspring.” (Isaiah 44:3)
“I will pour out My
Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men
will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. Even on the
servants, both male and female, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29)
water in Siloam
was considered “living water” because it came from the spring of Gihon; and
it was at Gihon that Solomon was anointed King. (I Kings 1:45).
from Siloam was used in the ordinance of ashes of the red heifer; and used
in purification ceremonies, and in various ways. You may remember that
Y’shua sent a blind man to wash his eyes in Siloam. (John 9:6-7).
miracle, of course, was not the result of the water, but obedience to the
118 was viewed as a messianic psalm and this gave a messianic
emphasis to the Festival, as the priests who had ears to hear, could
perceive that Sukkot had a prophetic significance. And of course, Zechariah
14:16-19 should have made them aware that Sukkot was much more than “booths
in the wilderness.” It should convince us also that this Feast of
Yahweh is about the Millennial Kingdom.
“Then the survivors from the nations that attacked Jerusalem will go up year
after year to worship the King, YHWH of Hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of
Tabernacles. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to
Jerusalem to worship the King, YHWH of Hosts, there will be no rain on
Sukkot is an historical backdrop to the Messiah’s teaching in John 7 to 9.
one occasion Y’shua watched the pouring out of the water ceremony. It was on
“the final and most important day of the Feast
Sukkot, when Y'shua stood and cried out! ‘If anyone is thirsty,
let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes and trusts in Me, as
the Scripture has said, “rivers of living water will flow from his innermost
being”.’ By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were
How appropriate it was that Y’shua, the true Messiah, should appear at the
great Festival, and declare Himself as the Great Hosanna, the Messiah, and
the Giver of the Rivers of Living waters. His words were not uttered in a
corner, but in the open, and in a loud voice. It was an open invitation.
“Come to Me and drink.”
The Heavenly Master had long before reprimanded Israel for its fatal
“For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the
Fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves cisterns, broken
cisterns, that do not hold water’."
Now Y’shua was offering water, not from a hewn out cistern, or a stagnant
well. He was offering flowing living water. And no doubt He was
claiming ownership to Zechariah’s prophecy:
"And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of
Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication, so they will look on Me,
the One they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns
for an only son, and they will weep bitterly for Him, like the bitter
weeping over a lost first-born."
Some of the people believed and said, “This is the Messiah.” Others who were
evidently unaware of Y’shua’s ancestry and His birth place, said; “No! He is
from Galilee, and therefore cannot be a prophet or messiah. The Messiah will
come from Bethlehem.” And the chief priests of course were seeking an
occasion to arrest Him.
Another joyful Sukkot festivity that was not commanded by God,
practised. It was …
In the Temple area there were four towering lampstands – about 75 feet high.
They were fuelled by olive oil, and were lit
by boys climbing up long ladders. The lights, seen all over Jerusalem, were
The Temple was crowded by thousands of pilgrims, and all night long, elders
carrying burning torches, performed impressive dances and sang.
people also waved the palm branches in their hands during this ritual.
This “ceremony” began on the 2nd night, and it was repeated each
night for the rest of the week.
On the 7th night,
priests marched around the altar seven times.
The light ceremony was related to the descent of the Shekinah in Solomon’s
time; and it also looked forward to the future return of the Shekinah when
the Messiah begins His Kingdom reign.
The Light display was so powerful that Jerusalem was called “The Light of
On the 7th day – Y’shua gave His call regarding the living water
that He would give; and then on the next day – the 8th day – the
Master returned to the temple where He summed up the Light Festival in His
“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in
darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
If it were not true, this would have been a most outrageous affront to all
Light, and the
One over whom the Jews, and the Gentiles, should be truly excited. The Light
of the World, in whom there is no darkness at all! (1 John 1:5). And as
Isaiah prophesied regarding the Messiah:
“He, YHWH, says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should merely
be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved
ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light of the nations that You
should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ (Isaiah 49:6)
Another practice developed later was the…
ENCIRCLING OF THE ALTAR
Temple priests attached willow branches to the sides of the bronze altar,
and as the shofar sounded, they marched around the altar, continuously
reciting Ps 118:25:
“Save now, we
beseech Thee, O LORD! O LORD I beseech Thee, do send prosperity!”
As there has been no temple and
sacrifices since AD 70, the Torah Scroll on
a central platform in the synagogue
replaced the altar and the Temple rituals. The Jews encircle the synagogue
while singing Psalm 118.
And today, even the water-drawing and the light celebration are no longer
Instead the emphasis is on the reading of the Torah, and rejoicing
in the Word of God.
In the Middle Ages a new festivity was introduced.
on the holy convocation of the 8th day,
gave the Jewish congregations a very real reason to rejoice. It is called
Simchat Torah (rejoicing in the Torah) – pronounced Simhat –
the h being guttural.
march around the synagogue and the
carrying uplifted Torah scrolls, with great rejoicing and dancing. This
brought the Sukkot season to
The main significance of Sukkot is its anticipation of the coming kingdom,
when the Messiah will gather the saved of Israel back to their land, and
when the redeemed of the nations will also come up to Jerusalem to
participate in the annual Feast of Tabernacles.
For the church,
Sukkot brings the reminder that there is
joy set before us – the joy of reigning with Christ from the New Jerusalem,
the Heavenly city.
craved and striven for a Utopia – a perfect
have tried to establish a new world without the Heavenly
Sovereign. And they still strive for a “new world” of their own
there is this very encouraging word from YHWH.
“My dwelling-place will be with them; I will be their God
and they will be My people. Then the nations will know that I am YHWH who
sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is among them for ever.” (Ezekiel 37:27-28)
And it is not only
prophesied in the
“I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘See now,
the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell among them, and they
shall be His people, and YHWH Elohim Himself shall be with them -
their God’.” (Revelation
A prophecy of Amos should fill Israel with great anticipation and gladness:
“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David,
and wall up its breaches. I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as
in the days of old.”
And Amos’ prophecy has been repeated and amplified by the apostle Paul.
“After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the
tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I
will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek YHWH, and all
the Gentiles who are called by My Name,’ says YHWH who makes these
things known from long ago.”
Sukkot looks forward to the Climax of the Age – the Millennial
Kingdom – Blessedness for the Redeemed.
“Then the survivors from the nations that attacked
Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, YHWH of Hosts, and
to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. And if any of the families of the
earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, YHWH of Hosts, there
will be no rain on them.”
“In the last days the mountain of the House of YHWH will
be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the
hills, and all nations will stream into it. Many peoples will come
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of YHWH, to the house
of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His
paths.’ For the Torah (instruction) will go out from Zion, and the
Word of YHWH from Jerusalem.
“He will judge between the nations, and will settle
disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against
nation, nor will they learn warfare any more.” (Isaiah 2:2-4)
Feast of Tabernacles will be mandatory for all nations at that time. But it
will not be a matter of coercion; rather it will be a yearly delight – a
thrilling visit to Jerusalem, and to the LORD’s House, to gather with
millions of the Redeemed of the LORD, and to witness the Shekinah Glory of
the LORD. (But even then there will be some in the Millennium who opt out –
and lose out.)
THE SIGNIFICANCE FOR THE CHURCH
is a reality in that the Holy Spirit dwells –tabernacles - in all believers.
They are, each one, a temple – a tabernacle of God; and corporally, they are
the Body, the Temple of Christ. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
sukka (booth) is a symbol of Y’shua who is our Refuge in times of
distress and adversity - but He’s not a flimsy tent. He is our Protection,
our Fortress, our Stronghold. (Ps 18:2; 19:14. Hebrews 6:18), and we can
always hide in Him – the Rock of all Ages.
believed that the birth of Y’shua was during Sukkot.
the Word was made flesh and dwelt - tabernacled - among us."
Many believe that Y’shua
will return at Sukkot to establish His Kingdom – to dwell among His people.
Many believe that the Rapture could happen at the Feast of Trumpets. Some
believe it could happen at Shavuot – Pentecost - which was the inauguration
of the Church.
There’s much about Sukkot that pertains to, and in fact, is experienced in
the church today – the GATHERING TO and REJOICING in the
LORD, the REJOICING in the WORD; THE POURING OUT of the
water– the living rivers of the Holy Spirit; the LIGHTS speaking of
the SHEKINAH GLORY that dwells in each true member of the church. ...
Moreover, the TABERNACLE - the dwelling place of YHWH; the
LIVING IN A BOOTH – Y’shua is our Refuge, our Booth, our Dwelling Place;
and we are told to abide, to live in Him always (John 15:7). But I repeat,
Y’shua our Refuge is not like a feeble hut made of branches. He is a mighty
Fortress, and Stronghold. (Ps 18:2)
OFFERINGS to the LORD, not animals for a temporary covering, but
offerings of our lives daily as a living, spiritual and holy Sacrifice for
worship and service. (Rom 12:1. 1 Pet 2:5); the INGATHERING – our
contributing towards the winning souls and the bringing in the sheaves.
ANTICIPATION of reigning with the Messiah.
the church, Sukkot is a reality! The Holy Spirit tabernacles in
all believers. They are, each one, a temple – a tabernacle of God; and
corporally, they are the Body, the Temple of Christ. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
don’t we celebrate and proclaim the promised coming Millennium in these days
– in a Christian type of way? We don’t need to imitate the ancient Jewish
rituals, nor the modern festivities.
Jerusalem, over the past 40-50 years, Christians have celebrated a Feast of
Tabernacles. Some 5,000 people from many countries around the world, gather
for most of a week to participate in a well organised time of meetings,
joyful worship, seminars, street processions and special features.
least our churches could have prophetic teachings on the Millennial Kingdom
and the King of Glory, and a special occasion to rejoice in Him . It can
of my Indian readers will recall the blessed times we had in Secunderabad/Hyderabad
in the 80s and 90s. Our King of Kings Festival was an 8-day, morning
to night program, with many features including competitions, street
processions - even a motor bike parade. People came from all over India to
join in the “celebrations.”
THE DAY OF
Finally, Sukkot is also referred to as the Feast of the Ingathering.
“Also you shall observe the Feast of Harvest of the first
fruits of your labours from what you sow in the field; also the Feast
of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of
your labours from the field.”
The crops of fruit,
pomegranates, etc., gathered
was the final harvest for the year.
This “ingathering” refers to a separation that occurs at the Second Coming
of the Messiah - at the end of the Tribulation. It is the grapes in
Revelation that give a grim meaning here. This speaks of reaping the
“Take Your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the
harvest of the earth is ripe.’ …
‘Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes
from the vine of the earth, for her grapes are ripe.’
So the messenger swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the grapes
from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great
winepress of the wrath of God.”
(Rev 14:15, 18-19)
The tares are separated from the wheat. Y’shua taught:
“First gather up the wild plants and bind them in bundles to be burned; then
gather the wheat and bring it into my barn'."
It is similar to what happens at the Rapture when the
redeemed are caught up to meet the Saviour; and the unsaved are left behind
for the 7-year Tribulation judgment.
But at the second coming, the wicked (the unsaved) will be removed, and the
redeemed will be left, to be brought into the Millennial kingdom. (Matthew
So, while “Tabernacles” looks forward to the Millennial blessing, there is
also judgment ahead for the Christ-rejecting generation.