Continuing with our study of the feasts of Israel is this, our final feast, the Feast of Tabernacles. If you have missed the other studies, you may click the links here:
The Lord Our Passover (Passover & Unleavened Bread)
Happy Firey Tongues Day (The Feast of Weeks – Pentecost)
My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Ezekiel 37:27 (NKJV)
THE FIRST TABERNACLE
Do you remember the story in the Old Testament where Moses went on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments from God, but returned only to find the Hebrew people had constructed a golden calf all that time he was gone, and were worshipping it? Aaaargh!!!! I think Moses was pretty much at his wits end with them. He angrily tossed and broke those stone tablets, and went straight to burn their stupid idol (32:20). In his frustration he went out and met with the Lord in a tent far away from the camp. He called it the tabernacle of meeting (33:7) and there God and he talked things out. The Lord asked Moses to come back up on the mountain and He would show him what to do.
When Moses returned to the mountain, God gave him instructions for building a Tabernacle of worship for the people, so that they could have Him with them in their wilderness wanderings. God made Himself accessible to the people.
Later, on in the timeline of history, when David became king, he sought to build God a permanent dwelling place, where the Ark of the Covenant (from all the way back in Moses’ day) could be kept. His son Solomon fulfilled his father’s vision, and the temple was built in Jerusalem.
Through the building of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:8; 29:45; Leviticus 26:11-12) and the construction of the temple (1 Kings 6:13, 14; 2 Chronicles 6:18), God demonstrated again and again an outward expression of His persistent desire to dwell with man. But we are to make no mistake… These tabernacles were only temporary provisions. God’s word tells us that He does not dwell “in temples made with hands.” (Isaiah 66:1-2; Acts 7:48-50; 17:24, 25 cp. Jeremiah 7:4; Matthew 24:1, 2) (*http://www.dianedew.com/habitatn.htm)
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” 1 Kings 8:27 (NKJV)
God’s house on earth was regularly robbed and desecrated by evil kings throughout the Old Testament. And even in the New Testament religious people of that day were using it in ways that God never intended. Jesus overturned tables when He found that people were turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves.
In 70 AD God’s Tabernacle (Temple) on earth was finally destroyed for the last time when the Holy Land was conquered and God’s people were scattered over the face of the earth. It has never been rebuilt. All that remains is the western wall, where orthodox Jews and people from around the world go to pray and press their paper petitions into the cracks between the stones.
HISTORY OF THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
Though God’s tabernacle on earth was misused and eventually destroyed, The Father never wanted His people to forget about His dwelling place, because it was after all a copy and shadow of things to come. The design that He showed to Moses on that mountain was and is a copy and shadow of His tabernacle in heaven (Hebrews chapter 8 and 9; Revelation 21). The purpose of the tabernacle is to give man a place on his/her level to meet with our Maker, for the purpose of fellowship! A place where we can remember the covenant God has made with us, lay down our sins, learn of His will and His ways, and sup with Him! The ritual of “church” is a practice that, in it’s very best, gives us a picture of heaven. Our modern “church” is rooted out of an ancient Hebrew practice ordained by God…
“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.”
Deuteronomy 16:13-15 (NKJV)
The Jewish Feast of Ingathering or Feast of Booths, as it is sometimes called, is the last of the yearly feasts of Israel. It takes place in the fall, at the end (or ingathering) of the fruit harvest.
In modern Hebrew culture, The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is celebrated by God’s children who first put up a Sukkah (like a gazebo with an open air roof) in the days leading up to the feast date. It can be built on a porch (as long as the porch does not have a roof of any kind), or in a back yard (as long as its location is open to the sky and not sheltered under any tree cover). The Sukkah can be made of an existing structure, as long as the roof is replaced entirely with “sechach,” which is vegetable matter that has not previously been used for any other purpose. It must be four sided, with one side open for entering and exiting. The roof cannot be premade – it must be newly constructed of twigs and branches of palms collected for that particular Sukkah that year. Inside is a table, and all the family meals are taken in the Sukkah for the entire holiday. Guests are invited and encouraged.
The week-long feast of Tabernacles is book-ended between two Sabbath days of rest – Leviticus 16:30-31; 23:34, 41. On the first day of the feast the people of Israel were to “take the foliage of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and use them for the roof, and also offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, and rejoice before the Lord for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40,36). All native Israelites were to go out and dwell in these booths for the seven days of the feast to remind them of their ancestors wandering in the wilderness.
(For more info please visit this terrific website!)
EMMANUEL, GOD WITH US
As with all the feasts, Jesus is the pivotal point on which they all are hinged. Each of the feasts are a copy and shadow of things to come.
The first four feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost) happen in the spring and summer, and each has been fulfilled by Jesus, our Passover Lamb without spot or blemish, the Resurrection and the Life, the Bridegroom of the church, our Messiah.
Three feasts remain: Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.
Click here for the fall-feasts-free-printable
The ultimate fulfillment of the last three feasts, as it appears, will be when Jesus sounds His trumpet at the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) and gathers His elect “from the peoples” (Eze. 11:17) – the rapture; atones for His chosen (Yom Kippur), taking the sacrifice from the cross and sprinkling the blood on the mercy seat in heaven (Lev.16:3, 14; Rom. 5:9-11), permanently penning the names of those atoned for in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And then gathering us, His bride, the elect, and the church, from the heavens, from one end of heaven to the other, to gather us from the many mansions (Sukkot) He has built in His Father’s house (where we will be kept safe from the great tribulation to come)…
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
Psalm 27:5 (NKJV)
…to His great Tabernacle in the New Jerusalem.
“And there we shall all ever be with Him…” (1 Thes. 4:17)
The Wedding Feast
To understand the Feast of Tabernacles with a little more clarity, I feel like we need to understand the Jewish Wedding customs. I see the two of them just so very intimately intertwined.
In the Old Testament, it was the custom for a son, or his family, to choose a bride. Having made a choice, the son would then go to the father of the bride and negotiate a “bride price” or dowry. Once the dowry was paid, the son would ask for the bride’s hand in marriage, seal the covenant with a sip of wine, and place a ring on her finger. The two were engaged at this point, or in Jewish terms, betrothed. It was a legally binding agreement.
The groom then left his bride and returned to his father’s house where he would begin building a home for the two of them. This home was built in his father’s estate. As you can imagine the groom was anxious to go back and get his bride and get the show on the road, but the son would not be allowed to go back until his father approved of the house that he had built.
When the house that the son built finally passed his father’s inspection and approval, the father would give the son permission to go back and get his bride.
When he went to retrieve his bride, while he was still a ways off, he and his groomsmen would begin shouting, and even blowing a trumpet to alert her. The bride was supposed to be dressed, packed, and ready to depart at a moment’s notice. She was to have an oil lamp ready, and all of her bride’s maids as well, in case he came at night. In her time of waiting she was to remain consecrated, set apart, and bought with a price. And when the groom arrived with his groomsmen, they would then snatch the bride away and begin a joyous procession to the father’s house. This would alert the townsfolk and bride’s families that the wedding was taking place, and they were all invited to come.
At the father’s house the bride and groom exchanged rings and vows were spoken. Afterward, the two of them would disappear into the house he had made for them, and there they would remain for seven days. They were not considered married until the marriage was consummated (John 3:29). The bride and groom remained in the chamber and spent that time getting to know each other in every intimate way. The wedding guests continued to celebrate with feasting and drinking wine and dancing until the seven days were finally ended and the bride and groom could share in a grand feast together.
If you are familiar with the scriptures it’s easy to see so many illustrations of Jesus and the church in this beautiful tradition. If you are not familiar, I encourage you to seek the scriptures for yourself.
First, we are a chosen bride:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
“For I [Paul] am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ. 2Corinthians 11:2
Jesus made a covenant with His apostles (Passover/Last Supper) that passed on to all who of us who have believed and received Christ as Lord. At the Last Supper Jesus said, “This is my blood of the everlasting covenant, which is poured for many.”
The dowry He paid for His bride, the church, was His suffering and death on the cross (Unleavened Bread/Crucifixion/Passion of the Christ). “But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:19 (AMPC) It was a high price, but greater love hath no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends.
The figurative ring that Jesus placed on His bride’s finger is the deposit of the Holy Spirit into our hearts when we accept His proposal. He set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. And He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts. (2 Cor. 1:22 & Ephesians 1:13-14)
It is the seal, the promise, guaranteeing He will return for us someday. Jesus told His disciples it was to their advantage that He go to heaven, because unless He went, the Holy Spirit could not come back. The Holy Spirit is the betrothment, the signed contract.
When Jesus told his disciples that “in my Father’s house are many mansions” ( ) and “no man knows the day or the hour of my return, only the Father,” ( ) they understood the symbolism parallel with the wedding custom.
When the apostles preached that Jesus would return with a shout, and a trumpet (1 Thes) to gather up His bride, the Jewish people of that day HAD to have begun to see the mystery of the gospel, as I pray we do.
The feast of Trumpets is fulfilled by the rapture (gathering up and snatching away) of the church (all the believers of the earth) – the Bride of Christ. And the feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled when the church dwells in heaven in our little sukkah’s (booths, tabernacles) that our Bridegroom has built for us, to keep us safe for the last seven of Daniel’s prophesy – the great tribulation.
Jesus was Jewish, and He used things familiar to Jews to teach kingdom principles; the Jewish people got their customs from the Father to begin with. It is all patterned after things in heaven. When we draw the veil back on those Jewish traditions, it gives light to our understanding of the scriptures and how Jesus fulfills all of them. Oh how I would love to be adopted into a Messianic Jewish family and to know the ways and practices of the people of my Lord. How I appreciate the knowledge of my Jewish brothers and sisters like Zola Levitt and others, whose wisdom I draw upon heavily in my understanding of the scriptures.
Who is the bride and who are the guests? I believe I am interpreting Zola Levitt correctly that the bride is the raptured church (Christians and Messianic Jews), and the guests are the family of the Father (the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) who repent as a nation (at their feast of Atonement) of their rejection of their Messiah.
It’s maybe a little odd of me, but I am thankful for Israel’s unfaithfulness (the Father knew they would be – as Hosea’s wife was), because it allowed me, YOU (and all Gentiles), the blessed opportunity to be grafted into the promise, and a new covenant, and to share in that great feast in God’s tabernacle in the New Jerusalem at the end of the age.
The Lord’s Time Fully Come
I’ve often wondered about the two places in scripture where Jesus draws back from participating in a certain activity, saying My time has not fully come. The first instance was at the wedding in Cana when Mary, His mother, asked Him to show His works and do something about the lack of wine. Jesus told her His time had not fully come, but obeyed His mother, and did His works in secret. I believe His reluctance to manifest a miracle with wine (especially the wine for a wedding banquet) was because He is saving himself for THE WINE that will be shared with us at THE WEDDING FEAST in heaven…the fulfillment of the Last Supper, which He told his disciples He would not drink of until we are all able to drink it with Him, at His table, in His kingdom.
The second time Jesus made that statement (in John 7), His brothers were getting ready to go the Feast of Tabernacles and pushing Him to also go and show His works to the people. Jesus told them to go without Him, as His time had not fully come. Jesus did end up going, but secretly. Hebrews 8:2 tells us, the true tabernacle is with God and not men. Jesus was well aware of the many mansions (Sukkahs, tabernacles) that await us in His kingdom. Our Lord observed the feasts on earth knowing they have a fulfillment in heaven. He has slipped away to prepare our places, that where He is we may be also, and He is waiting for His Father’s command to return for us, His bride.
His time fully comes in that day, when we shall sup with Him in His tabernacle, and He with us.
“Come away with Me…” Mark 6:31 (NKJV)
…is an invitation that Jesus continues to extend to anyone who can hear His voice. It is the essence of “Tabernacles” to come out from the lives we’ve built for ourself and commune with God.
In Jesus the intent of God’s heart is fulfilled. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt (or, tabernacled) among us…” (John 1:14) His name was called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God With Us.” (Matthew 1:23) The tabernacle of Moses was only a type of “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man…” (Hebrews 8:2, 5; 9:25) “… Behold, the tabernacle (the abode) of God is with man, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people …” (Revelation 21:3)
God’s ultimate intention, however, has been to make His abode within the heart of every believer (John 14:23). Jesus promised that the same Spirit that “dwelleth with you … shall be in you.” (John 14:17) His place of habitation is within His people: “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.” (Zechariah 2:10)
In Old Testament times the Spirit of God would “come and go” – His Presence would enter, bless, and depart (Numbers 9:15-23; 11:25; 2Chronicles 5:13-14). Yet the Lord longed for a place in which He might continually dwell, or make His abode. “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation … here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” (Psalms 132:13, 14) (*http://www.dianedew.com/habitatn.htm)
“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. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:4-6 (NKJV)
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2 (NKJV)
“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I [John the Baptist] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:10-12 (NKJV)
“And the fire will test each one’s work (our Firstfruits), of what sort it is. If anyone’s work endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:13-17 (NKJV)
“Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved to the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” Romans 11:25-29 (NKJV)
So while our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, gathered around tables inside their little outdoor huts, covered with palm branches, let us all remember, our bodies are the temple of the Lord, and let us eagerly look forward to the ingathering (harvest of souls) that shall take place, and the great supper that the Lord is preparing, where we will ALL share that communion cup with Jesus finally, after all this time.
‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’”
Revelation 19:9 (NKJV)
“Surely I am coming quickly.” Revelation 22:20 (NKJV)