Chag HaSukkot, Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles, God's feasts, God's Holidays, Jesus' Return, John 7:37-38, John 8:12, Leviticus 23:41-43, Nehemiah 8:14-18, Simchat Torah, water libation, Zechariah 14
So far we’ve learned that God has seven holidays. Of those seven, the four spring holidays have been fulfilled by Jesus and the three fall holidays have not. The three autumn feasts that are yet to be fulfilled are the Day of Trumpets/Blowing (Yom Teruah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Chag HaSukkot). The Day of Trumpets has many nicknames including “the hidden day,” “the day of the awakening blast,” and “the day that no one knows the day or the hour” and has everything to do with Christ’s return in the near future. The Day of Atonement is the holiest and most solemn of God’s holidays, and is both a day of atonement and judgment. Isaiah 61 is a major passage read on Yom Kippur and only on Yom Kippur. Jesus actually read this passage and declared that He fulfilled the “acceptable year of the Lord,” the atonement part of Isaiah 61. However, Jesus has not yet fulfilled the other half of that passage, “the day of the vengeance of our God.” Thus, Jesus is the present atonement for those who repent, but the future judgment of those who have not repented.
The third fall holiday called the Feast of Tabernacles was one of three feasts (the other two being Passover and Pentecost) that all men were commanded to attend in Jerusalem. The women and children were very much invited, but all the men age 20 and over were commanded to come (Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 16:16). Every seven years, however, everyone was to attend as it says in Deuteronomy 31:10-13, “And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law…”
WHAT ARE SUKKOT?
During this eight day holiday, the Jews specifically were and are to dwell in sukkot, translated as tabernacles, booths, and temporary dwellings (Leviticus 23:41-43), in order to commemorate how they lived when God brought them out of Egypt. While gathered in Jerusalem, all the men, with or without their families, were to build temporary shelters that were enclosed on three sides and were made of branches from trees. This way, when lying down for sleep at night, one could look up through the branches and see the stars overhead. In short, it could be said that this holiday is camping done God’s way.
THE REVIVAL OF NEHEMIAH’S DAY
In the book of Nehemiah we read the powerful story about God’s people who had returned from Babylonian captivity and of their incredible revival. In reading this book we also catch a glimpse of what a Feast of Tabernacles was to look like.
Nehemiah 8:14-18 says,
“14 And they found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month,
15 and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”
16 Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim.
17 So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.
18 Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.”
HOLIDAY OF WONDER
The Feast of Tabernacles all about lights, water, wind, great joy, the telling and retelling of the good old stories of the Word of God, and Emmanuel—God Himself abiding among His people.
It is all about light for it was at that time when the Jews would celebrate it from Jerusalem (even in Jesus’ day) and the lights of Jerusalem would be seen up to 40 miles away in all directions. Those north into the region of Galilee and west out onto the Mediterranean Sea would see the lights. Indeed, located on a hill of about 2,500 feet, Jerusalem at that time of the year was referred to as “the light of the world”. In the temple court there would have been four extremely tall tall candlesticks rising 7.5 stories into the sky, which is about 75 feet high. Each would be filled with gallons and gallons and gallons of oil continually for eight days so that all night long the people could celebrate with great exuberance. It was at this time that Jesus stood up and declared in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.”
It is also about water, for part of the ceremonies performed on the Day of Tabernacles was that of the water libation (the definition of libation is “pouring out water to a diety”) wherein 8 priests, with singing and music and many parading behind them, would descend from Jerusalem to the Pool of Siloam to draw water with a golden pitcher. Then they would all march uphill back to the Temple with the water as well as a silver pitcher of wine. Once they reached the Temple they would pour the water into a cup on the brazen altar and the wine into another cup on the altar. While they poured out the water and the wine they would be singing Isaiah 12:3 which says, “3 Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation.” Interestingly enough, the name of Jesus–Yeshua–means salvation. Furthermore, at the time of Jesus, while the priests were pouring out the water and praying for rain in order to have good crops the following year, Jesus arose to say with a loud voice, “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believeth on me as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” John 7:37-38.
It is also about wind, for while 8 priests were drawing the water from the wells of salvation, 8 other priests went out and cut down long (even up to 30 feet) branches of willow trees. Then, from different directions, those with the water and those with the branches would ascend back up into Jerusalem to the Temple. Both groups of priests would be accompanied by large crowds of followers. Those bearing the long branches would travel back to Jerusalem waving those branches causing a sound like that of a great wind to blow. Not only this, but everyone else also held onto such branches and waved them about during the celebration. The Holy Spirit is depicted in the great feast through this wind caused by the willow branches being waved. The word for Spirit in Hebrew quite literally means, “wind, breath.” Thus, the wind being caused is symbolic of the blowing of the Spirit. Indeed, later on in Acts 2, the Spirit would come upon those in the upper room who were waiting for the promise of the Father like the blowing of a violent wind.
It is also all about great joy, specifically the joy of the Word of God. After all, the 8th day of the feast was called Simchat Torah, which means, “rejoice in the teaching” or Word of God. For even as the people needed rain for their crops and were praying to God for that rain, the people also needed the Word of God to fall like rain and for the knowledge of the Lord to cover the earth as the water covers the sea (Isaiah 11:9). The Word of God (Torah) is compared to water and rain. Their songs were taken from the Psalms and Isaiah, and their joy was in God their savior. And their rejoicing was not simply in good food, hanging out with friends, singing their favorite songs or in the hopes for the rains to come, but rather, their rejoicing was in the knowledge of a personal, sovereign, detail-oriented, incredible God who would one day rain down upon all and dwelling among us.
GOD’S DWELLING AT SINAI
God had at one time descended from on high and tabernacled among the Jews in what was referred to as the Tabernacle. Can you imagine that? God’s holy, awesome presence dwelt in His own tent right in the midst of the tents of His people. He was their neighbor! What if God were your neighbor and lived in the house right next to yours? Well, God’s tent was right in the center of the Israelite wilderness housing project!
GOD’S TEMPLE “IN” CHRISTIANS
At this time because of Jesus, unbelievably and incredibly, God actually dwells not simply among us but within us as Christians. He dwells in each of us individually and corporately. I Corinthains 6:19 speaks of us as individuals, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” I Corinthians 3:16 speaks of us as a corporate body of believers, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Furthermore, Jesus in John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” And in John 14:23 Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Because of Christ’s atonement, we may abide in Him in this “acceptable year of the Lord”.
GOD WILL DWELL “AMONG” US AGAIN
Spectacular as this is, one day He will also one day soon dwell among us even as He did in the days of Sinai when the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle in the midst of all the people. Isaiah 2:2-4 (in unison with Micah 4:1-2) says, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.” In this special time of Christ’s rule and reign on earth “He [Jesus] shall come down like rain on the mowed grass, like showers that water the earth. In His days the righteous shall flourish; and abundance of peace, until the moon is not. He shall also have the rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth,” Psalm 72:6-8. And “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea,” Habakkuk 2:14.
TABERNACLES DURING THE MILLENNIUM
Not only will Jesus tabernacle among us physically on earth, but amazingly, the Feast of Tabernacles will be a required celebration at that time of Christ’s rule and reign even as it says in Zechariah 14:2a-4, 5c-7a, 8-9, 16-19, “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken… Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south…Thus the Lord my God will come, And all the saints with You. It shall come to pass in that day That there will be no light; The lights will diminish. It shall be one day which is known to the Lord…And in that day it shall be That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be– The Lord is one,” And His name one… And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”
The Feast of Tabernacles is about many things such as light, water, wind, and the joy of God’s word, but it is also about dwelling in booths and how God wants to dwell among His people. Because of Jesus, Christians are now God’s dwelling. But, one day, even as God once dwelt among His people at Sinai, and Jesus came as Emmanuel “God with us”, He will physically dwell among us again. In Nehemiah’s day God’s people after nearly ninety years of darkness became aware of God’s word and of His requirements. Because of this there was great weeping and an even greater joy that followed as they began to practice what God desired of them, including the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Tabernacles is an incredible holiday of joyous jubilation and meaning. When the people actually celebrated it as they should, upwards to over 2 million people would be in attendance. Men would be dancing and juggling lit torches, while the sounds of singing filled the air and music wafted on the breeze. All week long people participated in God-ordained rituals, sacrifices, camping out under the stars, prayer, feasting, dancing, singing, music, and the reading of God’s Word, and then they did it all over again into the night and into the next day and the day after that. If anyone thinks that God is a stick in the mud and doesn’t know how to have fun, then they have not celebrated this feast! However, unlike all other parties celebrated in this world, at this great party God was the focus, for it was about God coming down as the blessing of rain to dwell among humanity.
We as Christians have been delivered from the Law of Sin and Death (Romans 8:2). We have been delivered from “the power of darkness” and have been “translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love,” (Colossians 1:13). We have been washed by the water of the word (John 14 and Ephesians 5), have been made new creations in Christ even children of light (Ephesians 5:8, I Thessalonians 5:5), been filled with the wind of His Holy Spirit (John and Acts). In other words, we have been “atoned for” and are God’s dwelling place, His holy of holies. Thus, no matter what trial or tribulation we are suffering and enduring, we have so much to celebrate.
And on top of all this, The Feast of Tabernacles will lived out more completely when Jesus, our risen Savior, physically returns and sets up His kingdom here where He shall dwell among us as King of kings and Lord of lords, and all nations of the world will ascend to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles year after year.
This is the most joyous of all God’s holidays for those who are called by His name. May we rejoice and be glad in it as we look forward to the day of Jesus’ triumphant return!
May it be sooner than soon! The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Yes, come quickly LORD Jesus!!!!
For more information regarding God’s Holidays please refer to the Mark Biltz web addresses below:
Page on All the Feasts: https://www.elshaddaiministries.us/feasts_pages.php
Main Web Address: https://www.elshaddaiministries.us/index.php
To purchase the DVD set on the Feasts of the Lord: http://shop.elshaddaiministries.us/Feasts-of-the-Lord-Set-ITEM-100-001.htm (Right now the package is only $10.00!!)