Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Feast of Tabernacles

The year is 5774 according to the Jewish calendar, and the month is Tishri.  From the 15th to the 21st of this month, Israel celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles, coinciding with our calendar for sundown September 18th through sundown September 25, 2013. The Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths (Sukkot)
and the Feast of Ingathering is the seventh and final feast God gave to Israel in Leviticus 23. It is also the third and final feast to span a seven-day period.


After the ingathering of their crops, this seven-day feast begins with a holy convocation or sacred assembly much like a Sabbath for they were to do no “customary” work. As commanded, on the first day of the feast, Israel would take the harvested items and rejoice before the Lord. What a merry time for the Children of Israel. In fact, they refer to this feast as the “season of our joy”. Together they praise God for His bountiful creation and supply. Matthew Henry quotes Psalm 24:1 and comments, “The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; therefore whatever we have the comfort of, he must have the glory of…”


Once the initial holy celebration assembly is complete, God instructed Israel to dwell in booths or tents for the seven days of the feast. The word translated “booths” is sukkot (pronounced sue-coat) in Hebrew. Spending a week in a tent is to remind Israel of their ancestor’s 40-year wilderness journey, where they too, dwelt in tabernacles – tents or booths.
  
On each of the seven days, Israel presents an offering by fire to the Lord. However, on the eighth day they again sacredly assemble for one last offering by fire. 

I would love to know how it feels to have a week-long holiday where the whole nation praises and glorifies God together. Eventually, and maybe only seven years from now if the rapture of the church happens today, this is exactly what we will have. So sad Israel cannot or will not see the spiritual representation of this feast.

But what is the spiritual representation of this feast? How does it apply to or affect us, as Christians?

First, Sukkot is the seventh feast, but the third feast lasting seven days and something special happens on the eighth day. In scripture, the number seven carries the deeper meaning of completion and perfection. Three, represents our Triune God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ after three days. Additionally, eight is associated with new birth, new creation and new beginnings.


Pre-millennial Biblical scholars have long realized the Feast of Tabernacles represents when Jesus will once again “tabernacle” or dwell among us during the millennium – the time when He reigns from Jerusalem for 1,000 years. This feast comes after the Feast of Trumpets, representing the rapture of the church, and follows the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur – when Israel will look upon Him whom they have pierced. In the millennium, Israel will not be looking back to their exodus from Egypt, but to the Lord re-gathering them from all corners of the earth. With His harvest complete, it is time for celebration. “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.” (Zechariah 14:16, crf. Rev. 19-20)

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