A good friend of mine wrote an article about the meaning of the fall festivals. I wanted to share them here, on this second day of Sukkot, the most joyous of all feasts.
SUKKOT (THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES)
(and other themes associated with it)
THE SEASON OF OUR JOY: The Feast of Tabernacles lasts seven days and is the last of seven commanded feasts in the Biblical cycle and with it is the completion of God’s work. It is said of this feast that it is the most joyous of all feasts in the cycle. It follows the somber forty-day season of repentance (Teshuvah, Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur) with high joy in the knowledge that our sins are forgiven and celebration for what God has done. It is a feast in which God commanded all the men of Israel to come up to Jerusalem to celebrate this festival and they were to live in temporary dwellings for seven days. As a rehearsal, it looks forward to the time when Yeshua returns to the earth to begin His thousand-year reign on earth. (See Rev. 20:4-5) In those thousand years, the LORD will establish His righteous rule over the nations of the earth. “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 shall 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.” (Isa. 2:2-4) During the thousand-year reign, people will still die but there will be no war and Yeshua will bring righteous judgment between the nations. At the end of the thousand years, dead itself will be defeated. “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15: 25-26). There is a day added to this seven-day feast called the Eighth-Day that symbolizes the final completion as the events in Revelation 21 occur when all the former things have passed away and “the tabernacle of God is with men” (Rev. 21: 3) and we are given a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1) and there is no more death or sorrow and every tear is wiped from our eyes (Rev. 21:4)!
BOOTHS/TABERNACLES: When God delivered the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt, He commanded the Israelites to live in temporary dwellings for a week in this season of the feast of Tabernacles such as booths, tents or tabernacles. As a rehearsal, these temporary dwellings remind us that we are only sojourners, passing through this world (our temporary dwellings) to our permanent dwelling with the LORD. Even our bodies are decaying and passing away and when we are resurrected, we will be given new bodies that will never die. “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15: 52b)
FESTIVAL OF INGATHERING: The Feast of Tabernacles, like other pilgrimage festivals, has an agricultural element. It marks the time of the fall harvest, the final ingathering of produce before the oncoming winter season. As it is written, “You shall celebrate the Festival of Ingathering, at the end of the year, when you gather in your labors out of the field.” (Exo. 23:16). At this time, it was a time of rejoicing as the plentiful produce was gathered into the barns. In Matt. 13:39, Yeshua tells us that the harvest represents the end of the age. As a rehearsal, this feast reminds us that the harvest represents the ingathering of His people who have put their trust in Yeshua. As part of the Ingathering festival, palm branches, myrtle branches and willow branches are held in the right hand (Lev. 23:40). A fourth element, the Etrog (beautiful fruit-usually a lemon), is joined to the tree branches. The different branches represent different types of people from the four corners of the earth and the fruit represents the stranger joining into the nation of Israel. It is waved up toward heaven and down from under the earth and to the east, west, north and south to symbolize the return from heaven, from the dust of the ground and from all corners of the earth. Along with the theme of ingathering, is the fruit harvest. In the spring is the barley harvest (symbolizing the Jews) followed by the wheat harvest (symbolizing the gentiles) and finally the fall of the year is the great fruit harvest. The fruit harvest is a rehearsal for all things being gathered in (Jew and gentile) and all of the works (fruit of our labors for the LORD) rewarded!
THE FEAST OF NATIONS: Tabernacles will be celebrated by all nations on earth during the millennial reign of Yeshua. “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.” (Zech. 14:16) A fascinating and mysterious pattern emerges from the seemingly endless list of sacrifices found in Numbers 29: 12-35. During the week of Tabernacles, 70 bulls were offered on the alter. The connection is that 70 bulls represents the 70 nations of the world. (Deut. 32:8) God is concerned for the universal redemption of the nations. Those that do not turn to God and come to honor the King (Yeshua) and celebrate the feast of Tabernacles will have no rain and will receive a plague during the millennial reign. (See Zech. 14: 16-19)
THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS Hanukkah is also known as the festival of lights because of the eight days of candle lighting. The Festival of Lights at the season of Tabernacles is named so because of the four huge candelabras (50 cubits high) that were lit the courtyard of the temple continuously throughout the festival illuminated the whole city. It was customary to see explosive expressions of great joy with pious leaders of the Sanhedrin and heads of different religious schools dancing around the foot of these giant menorahs. At this time of the year, the temple was regarded as the light of the world. It was at this season in the backdrop of the gloriously lit temple courtyard that Yeshua stood up and declared that he was the light of the world. (See John 8:12 and John 7:1 for the reference to Tabernacles). As a rehearsal for a greater time to come, when there will be no need for the sun and the moon to shine in the city of Jerusalem as Yeshua, the lamb, is the light. (Rev. 21:22)
CLOUDS OF GLORY: As referenced earlier, Tabernacles is a time of remembering the wilderness journey when God protected, led and sustained the children of Israel in the wilderness. The wilderness was a picture of the millennial reign because there was a supernatural environment for the people. The cloud that followed them by day was a covering, a shelter from the sun and protection for them and it became a pillar of fire by night to give light, warm and protection. (Exo. 40: 34-38) As rehearsal, the Son of Man will return on the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7:13; Matt. 24:30-31; Rev. 1:7, Acts 1:9-11) with His saints (Isa. 60:8; Heb. 12:1; Rev. 19:14).
WEDDING FEAST: The feast of Tabernacles is a celebration of the final wedding feast. In Jewish tradition, the first feast takes place after the groom gathers his bride and they go into the chupa (wedding canopy) after the wedding ceremony to consummate the marriage. They stay in the chupa for seven days, coming out for meals. During the seven days, they go from house to house for meals and celebrations (the present-day progressive dinner from tabernacle to tabernacle celebration during Tabernacles). Every meal during all seven religious festivals are rehearsals for the main event. The last meal of the wedding feast takes place at the father of the bride’s home. In terms of the Bride of Christ – where is her home? Jerusalem! (Rev. 19:1-9; Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 21:9-10)
THE GREAT SALVATION (HOSHANA RABBAH): The Day of the Great Salvation is also known as the last and greatest day of the feast of Tabernacles and is celebrated on the last day of the feast of seven-day celebration. It is a holiday marked by the recitations of many “hosha-na” (help us, save us) prayers recited by worshippers carrying bundles of palm branches and willow twigs. The worshippers have done this each day during the Tabernacles festival making one circuit around the synagogue but on the last and greatest day, they do it seven times. This practice is related to the tradition that on Hoshana Rabbah, final heavenly judgment was given on the amount of rainfall to insure a bountiful harvest for the coming year. Their lives depended on the right amount of rainfall for a good harvest. On this day, the water pouring ceremony is done to symbolize the water in the form of rainfall for the harvest. What was Yeshua doing at this time? “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39) As a rehearsal for a future time, we are told in the book of Revelation, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the lamb.” (Rev. 22:1)
THE EIGHTH DAY (SHEMINI ATZERET): This is the day immediately following the festival of Tabernacles conclusion or the day after Hoshana Rabbah. What could be greater than that feast? It is a day that the LORD commanded to be a sacred assembly with no work so it was to be set aside as an important add on to the festival but not much is said about it. (Lev. 23:36) If the last festival of the Biblical cycle, of feasts of the LORD, Tabernacles, concludes all things, then at what is it hinting – this mysterious “add on” day to the last and greatest festival and the last and greatest day of the festival??? Eight is a symbol of eternity! On the eighth day of the festival, as a rehearsal, we celebrate each year that there will be a year that ends all time as we know it and begins eternity with God. It is the time spoken of in the book of Revelation from chapter 21 through 22 or the very ending of the story of redemption of our God told through the word of God and accomplished through His living Word, Yeshua. “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17)
REJOICING IN THE TORAH (SIMCHAT TORAH): On the day immediately following the Eighth Day, is a feast not commanded by God (the Jews love feasts) that honors the Torah (Bible) by reading the last few sentences in the last book written by Moses, Deuteronomy, and immediately turning to Genesis and beginning to read the first few sentences. We continue reading in the beginning of Genesis through the first Torah portion of the new year cycle of readings. This is to represent the unbroken cycle of reading the Torah of God as a way of life for us until the eighth day actually comes to pass in the future when we enter eternity with Him and we have the Torah way of life written on our hearts without corruption. Amen.