Jews around the world will begin to commemorate Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles) on Friday evening. What is the purpose of this eight-day observance, and does it biblically portray a greater story than the feast itself?
Amir’s commentary on The Feast of Tabernacles & Leviticus 23:33-43.
Jews all over the world will be observing Sukkot over the next eight days. They will carry out traditional celebrations like the building of booths called sukkahs, decorate them with various plants and fruits, and maybe even sleep in them (though, things are bit different this year due to COVID-19), but what’s the greater story behind the scenes?
The feasts of the Lord are God’s way of having Israel commemorate His love story with them, as well as the blueprint of His plan of salvation and redemption for all of sinful mankind. Both are called to leave bondage and slavery, and enter into His promised land. Israel and Egypt were the shadows – the world and sin are the substance.
The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is the final of the seven feasts of the Lord according to Leviticus 23:
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “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. 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, 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.
‘These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day— besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord.
‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day, there shall be a Sabbath-rest and on the eighth day a Sabbath-rest. 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. You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 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.”
The Exodus of Israel from Egypt was the historical event that God wanted Israel not to forget. Hence why several future biblical authors refer to the event, declaring to their audience not to forget it. The Lord even spoke through Jeremiah the prophet saying:
“…the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt…”
Of all the feasts that the Lord prescribed for Israel to celebrate in commemoration of His relationship with them, the only one we know that will be celebrated in the future regularly by ALL nations that are left after the tribulation is the Feast of Tabernacles.
“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.”
Did you notice that none of the other six feasts are to be celebrated by the gentiles in the future – just this one? This is a festival that originally described another old chapter of the love story between God and His chosen people – Israel.
Yet under the New Testament (New Covenant), this festival will be fulfilled and celebrated by ALL nations every year in Jerusalem.
The two elements that are interesting in Zechariah’s prophecy are:
1) “…Everyone that is left from ALL nations…” – speaking of a remnant from a great global catastrophe.
2) “…Come up to Jerusalem to worship the King…” – The nations will come up to Jerusalem to worship the Messiah who will sit on the throne of David and restore his fallen tabernacle.
This is the only time we hear the name Feast of Tabernacles in conjunction with some global events that will cause many to perish. Then it’s followed by gentiles coming from outside of Israel to gather with the Jews in the land, and all of them coming to Jerusalem to be part of the Lord’s kingdom on earth.
The tribulation, followed by the return of the Messiah back to earth together with His redeemed ones whom He took to be with Him to escape God’s judgment, are the major events that will usher in the fulfillment of this great festival.
Even though the Feast of Tabernacles is about the Exodus from Egypt and dwelling in booths during the long journey of Israel into their promised land, the bigger picture is the Kingdom of God on earth known as the Millennial Kingdom. He will tabernacle with us in the New Heavens, New Earth, and New Jerusalem. The shift is made from our Tabernacles in the past to His Tabernacle among people in the future.
This is why we read the following in the book of Revelation:
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
May we all remember that in order to reign with Him during the Millennial Kingdom, we must believe in the Passover sacrifice (Jesus’ shed blood) who lived an Unleavened(sinless) life, becoming the First Fruits(resurrection) from among the dead, who sent His Holy Spirit at Pentecost to be with us until the last Trumpet(rapture), when He will take us to be with Him during the tribulation. Once He returns, ALL Israel will be saved as they mourn during their last Day of Atonement.
Don’t miss the first six feasts if you want to reign with Him during the seventh!