Five days after the Day of Atonement, the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles commences. Tabernacles is the seventh and final Feast of the Hebraic Covenant Calendar. The number seven means blessing and completion and is so fitting that this Feast is all about celebration, joy, and “REST from works.
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying, “The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation [dress rehearsal]. You shall do no customary work on it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation (dress rehearsal), and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it. (Lev. 23:34-36)”
The Feast of Tabernacles is also known as the “Feast of Ingathering,” as it is celebrated at the final gathering of the harvest season, signifying the mark of the end of the agricultural year (Ex. 23:16). Whereas the Passover offering is associated with the barley harvest, and Pentecost is associated with the wheat harvest, Tabernacles is associated with the grape harvest. Since Tabernacles concludes the “blessings of the land” to be reaped for the year, God’s people can REST from their labors and REJOICE, which is the heart of this Feast.
“And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall REJOICE before the LORD your God for seven days” (Lev. 23:40).
Historically, on the first day of Tabernacles, the Israelites sang Psalm 105 when the priests poured their offerings of water and wine on the altar. Psalm 105 is a brief history of how God redeemed the children of Israel from Pharaoh and slavery. This kicked off the celebration.
The Israelites were also instructed to take fruit of beautiful tress, branches of palm trees, willow, and rejoice before the Lord 7 days, which is why the Feast of Tabernacles is referred as a season of joy (Lev. 23:40).
The Feast of Tabernacles is also known as “Sukkot,” which when translated means, “Feast of Booths.” This is because the Lord commanded the children of Israel to live in temporary houses, or “tents/booths,” during the Feast so that they would remember how the Lord provided covering and dwelt with them, even in their 40 years of testing through their wilderness wanderings.
“You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 23:42.43).
The “temporary tent/booth” today is symbolic of a New Covenant believer’s mortal (temporary) body, where God’s presence dwells because of the Holy Spirit deposited in us.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).
This deposit is a guarantee until we receive our immortal (permanent) bodies.
“who [speaking of the Holy Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14).
The Tabernacles blueprint also required drink and wine offerings to be given 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles. The drink offering was symbolized as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit (water) that prophesied of the manifestation of the promised inheritance. At God’s SET TIME, our mortal bodies will be free from death and we will be clothed in God’s glory.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).
The wine represented fruitfulness, but also the overthrow of evil because of the wrath of God that produces righteousness in the earth. A similar pattern is found in Revelations 16, as the “7 bowls of wrath” are poured out, confirming this transformation process of light overcoming darkness.
“Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth” (Rev. 16:1).
God warns in Rev. 14 that those who worship the beast will be affected by God’s wrath:
“If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation” (Rev. 14:9,10).
In addition to the offerings, at the end of every seventh year, the Lord commanded the Israelites to read the LAW each day of the Feast:
“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” (Deut. 31:10,11).
By opening up the Law and reading what God spoke in His Tablets of Covenant, the hearts were reminded of God’s love and promise for each of them.
It is interesting to note that the Feast of Tabernacles was not properly celebrated for over 900 years between Joshua and Ezra (Neh. 8:17). But just one week after the completion of the wall of the second temple in Jerusalem, the people gathered together for the Feast of Trumpets and stayed through the Feast of Tabernacles. They re-established reading the Law so their hearts could hear the Law, His Promise, and respond to the Word and worship Him (Neh. 9:3; Rom. 4:15; 7:7).
“Therefore, by the deeds of the Law, no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:21).
In reading through Jewish Feast history, the Jewish people mark the 7th day as “Hoshanah Rabbah, which means, “The Day of the Great Hosanna.” The name translates, “save now” or deliver us,” because the Israelites would pray during this time for God to send the latter rain so that the ground would be ready for the spring season. They also prayed for Messiah to deliver them. Today’s Jewish traditions include reading 7 liturgical poems. and beating willows on the ground to get rid of sin. However, these traditions are not found in Scriptures.
The eighth day of Tabernacles was “set apart” and is much like a wedding celebration, in which the bride and groom are united as ONE, and because of the Covenant made, ALL rejoice, dance, and toast to NEW BEGINNINGS.
The Feast of Tabernacles blueprint primarily focuses on God perfecting His promise of immortality, through His Son returning to the earth as our Kinsmen Redeemer and releasing us from the debts of sin (Book of Ruth). The 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles fulfills the laws of cleansing (Lev. 13,14). This lawful process of purification rids us of our sinful flesh so we can receive our “immortal and glorified body (a permanent dwelling) and fully “tabernacle with God (Num. 19).”
“Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body [inheritance of a glorified body]” (Romans 8:23).
Until Christ returns, we celebrate like our forefathers, with great anticipation of the “promises” to come. And like the children of Israel in the days of the Old Testament, who were known as a “Church in the wilderness” (Acts. 7:38), the “Church at large” for the past 2,000 years has been living in temporary booths (bodies), with the presence of God (deposit of the Holy Spirit), hoping to enter into the Promised Land (“New Jerusalem” which is an immortal corporate body).
“For we know that if our earthly house, this TENT, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven. If indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Cor. 5:1-5).
The fulfillment of this Feast will mark the beginning of the New Millennium reign of Christ here on the earth. The Church at large will then be able to “REST” from the war with Satan as He is “bound” for a thousand years while Christ judges the nations and restores the earth with His righteousness.
“He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished….”(Rev. 20:2,3).