Christianity can be condensed into four words: Admit, Submit, Commit and Transmit. -Samuel Wilberforce
The Feast of Tabernacles:
The Gathering of Messiah’s Harvest!
Five days after the Day of Atonement comes Sukkot, which is also called “The Feast of Ingathering” or “The Feast of Tabernacles” (Leviticus 23:33 – 43). This year the feast will begin tomorrow at sundown, the 16th of October, and continue through the 8th Day, aka the “Last Great Day” at sundown on the 23rd.
“Sukkot” is the plural form of the Hebrew word “sukkah” which means a temporary dwelling such as a tent, booth, or hut. This feast completes the sacred festivals of the seventh month. In contrast to the somber tone of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, this third feast of Tishrei is a time of joy, being called the “Season of our Rejoicing”, and for good reason! The ancient prophets speak about Israel’s future repentance, redemption and eschatological rejoicing in the coming of her Messianic King in great detail. The Feast of Tabernacles is the only holiday that will be observed by all of the redeemed nations of the world during the time of the Messianic Kingdom after the Second Coming of Christ. The prophet Zechariah wrote about the future day when all the nations of the earth, not only the Jewish people, will be called upon to celebrate this Feast. (Zechariah 14:16)
“Tabernacles” refers to the tents or booths that the Jewish people were commanded to inhabit during this holiday. (Leviticus 23:42) “On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:34). You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat (Deuteronomy 16:13).Today’s Jewish families celebrate the feast in booths – temporary shelters constructed of boughs and leafy branches. These booths serve as reminders of the temporary dwellings in which the Israelites lived while wandering in the desert after the Lord brought them out of Egypt. It is a holiday that represents a time of renewed fellowship with God, remembering His sheltering provision and care.
But Sukkot, like all of the Jewish feasts, has different levels of meaning, and there is a wonderful connection between Jesus and the Feast of Tabernacles. Understanding this Messianic connection helps us grasp something of the mystery of His Incarnation: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The word “dwelt” here in the Greek means “tabernacled.” When He became flesh, Jesus inhabited the temporary shelter of an earthly body, knowing He soon would be required to leave it. Why did He do it? So that we might find a home in Him – not a temporary shelter in the wilderness, but an eternal home in a Kingdom that abides forever.
The Calling and Mission of Israel
God’s plan for the Jewish people stretches back to His covenant with Abraham. In that holy agreement, God promised, “And I will bless those who bless thee, and one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) Although it may seem like God was limiting His line of promise by choosing one nation above others, His redemptive plan was always universal in nature. His plan of redemption would be offered to the entire world.
The prophet Isaiah announced that the nation of Israel would be a witness for God among the nations: “You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen in order that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me there was no God formed, and there will be none after me.” (Isaiah 43:10) Israel is chosen to testify on God’s behalf. Isaiah further details the testimony of the Jewish people regarding the nature and character of God, the prophet writes, “I, even I, am the Lord and there is no savior besides me.” (Isaiah 43:11) Israel’s mission was to proclaim to the world that the God of Israel is the one and only true God and there is no other Savior but Him.
Israel was to be more than a witness to the nations; He chose Israel from among all the peoples of the earth that they might be His vehicle to restore and reclaim a rebellious world. Israel was not chosen for their own sake, but for the sake of the nations. God describes their unique position as “a kingdom of priests.” They were commissioned for this holy responsibility at Mount Sinai. God called to Moses and said, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now then, if you will indeed hear my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:4 – 6)
Yet we know from the Old Testament that Israel failed in their mission. They were disobedient to the commandments of God and did not extend themselves in missionary activity. Still, the God of all grace did not renege on His choice.
He would use the nation of Israel to bless the world and ultimately fulfill His promises to and through the Jewish people. (Romans 11:11 – 29) In due time He sent His Son Jesus to live perfectly under the Law, to be a light to the nations and to intercede once for all on behalf of Jews and Gentiles. The faithlessness of man can never thwart the faithfulness of God. The Gentiles most assuredly would share in the salvation brought by the divine seed of Abraham. Paul wrote, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13 – 14)
Some have taught that Israel’s role in world redemption is completed, but quite the contrary– Israel remains chosen and still has a role to play in the future! The Apostle Paul declared: “Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be?” (Romans 11:12) And again he wrote, “For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15)
The prophets spoke of this coming time when Israel will be vindicated and her enemies destroyed. At the end of the great tribulation period, the Jewish people will cry out to God; and in His great mercy, the Messiah Jesus will come again to deliver them from annihilation. Then, He prophesies through Zechariah that “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:9 – 10)
Israel will be restored, both spiritually and nationally. Her enemies will be crushed and the Messiah will reign on His throne over Israel and the nations of the earth: “The Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one and His name the only one.” (Zechariah 14:9) This future day is coming when Israel will once again don the mantle of obligation and fulfill her role as a missionary nation as Israel will again be used by God to bring the message of the Messiah to the nations; for Israel will be central to His Kingdom ministry.
In the time of His Kingdom, Israel will once again don the mantle of obligation and fulfill her role as a missionary nation, being used by God to bring the message of the Messiah to the nations. Isaiah spoke of this coming day when Jerusalem would be restored, both physically and spiritually: “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will designate. You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” (Isaiah 62:1 – 3) In that day, “Israel will not be the tail, but the head of the nations.” (Deuteronomy 28:13)
Jerusalem will be the spiritual focal point of the world because the King of Jerusalem, the Prince of Peace, will reign in His chosen city. Isaiah wrote of that joyful occasion: “Break forth, shout joyfully together, your waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:9 – 10) That day is coming when a restored and renewed Israel will be a light to the nations, as the destiny of Israel is linked to the destiny of the world. Their testimony will be glorious and true because the One who is all-glorious in truth will sit upon His throne.
God does not want to destroy the nations, but to bring them into submission to His Throne. Therefore He will command the faithful among the Gentiles to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles! (Zechariah 14:16) In Revelation, the Apostle John wrote, “And I heard a loud voice from the thrones saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among men and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, crying, or pain, the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3 – 4) Ultimately, the whole earth will become the Sukkah booth of God and He will reign through His Son for all eternity. Doesn’t this give a whole new perspective as to why Tabernacles is called the “Season of Our Joy”? What greater joy can there be than to be in the presence of God forever!
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Prophecy backs that up very well . . . “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
This name is given to our Lord from His nature, as “God manifest in the flesh.” For this reason, He is called Emmanuel, “God with us.” Though Jesus was “with us” in human flesh and blood, He was at the same time completely God. Therefore we find in the gospels that our Savior knew men’s hearts and thoughts, that He had power over demons, that He could work the mightiest of miracles with a word, that He was ministered to by angels, that He allowed a disciple to call Him “my God,” and that he said, “Before Abraham was I am,” and, “I and my Father are one.” In all this we see “the eternal God.” We see Him “who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:5).
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6 – 7)
Therefore we also believe the testimony of John, who was inspired to write: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:1 – 5)
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:10 – 14)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
(John 3:16 – 18)
(John 3:16 – 18)