What is the connection between the Transfiguration and Sukkot?

Transfiguration of Jesus by Carl Bloch (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

To understand the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot you have to first understand what the Church calls the Transfiguration. Because it is impossible to fully realize the importance of the Feast of Tabernacles to all believers in Yeshua if you don’t keep Sukkot in the full context of Scripture.

We read about the Transfiguration in Matthew 17. In these few verses we read about one of the most amazing events in the New Testament as Yeshua, Peter, John, and Jacob are together on top of a Mountain. What makes this event so powerful is that within the written text itself we get to experience both the temporal world where John, Peter, and Jacob lived; the eternal world where Moses and Elijah are; and the reality that Yeshua was and is still living in both worlds at the same time. The scene described allowed humanity if only for a few moments to see not only into both worlds, but we were able to have a glimpse into the reality that both worlds intersect. The eternal and the temporal are not separate but connected in a way that we cannot fully grasp. But through Yeshua drawing back the curtain for a brief time, the Disciples as well as all who reads their words were able to see the unique joining of the two realms; one inside of time and the other without time.

In Ephesians 1:9-10, we find a powerful verse of Scripture in the middle of a whole section of powerful verses. Because of its location in the text, these words often become blended into the text, and the statement made gets someone lost in to the reader.

He made known to us the mystery of His will, in keeping with His good pleasure that He planned in Messiah. The plan of the fullness of times is to bring all things together in the Messiah—both things in heaven and things on earth, all in Him.

Notice the wording that the plan of the fullness of times is to bring together, both things in heaven and things of earth. Those moments in time that we read about in the verse below are an example of bringing together things in heaven and on earth. At this point you may be wondering okay, so I see the bringing together of the heavenly and the earthly as we see John, Peter Jacob, Moses, Elijah and Yeshua all in one place at one time. But what does this have to do with the Feast of Tabernacles and more importantly what does it have to do with believers in Yeshua today. To find this answer lets read the immediate reaction that Peter, John, and Jacob had to their supernatural experience. They have just seen Moses and Elijah with their own eyes, and they were talking with Yeshua. Their response is found in verse 3 below. They wanted to build three sukkot (booths) one for Yeshua, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

After six days, Yeshua takes with Him Peter and Jacob and John his brother, and brings them up a high mountain by themselves. Now He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Yeshua. Peter responded to Yeshua, “Master, it’s good for us to be here! If You wish, I will make three sukkot here—one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 

Why would they want to build sukkot for them what would cause these disciples to feel the urgency to build sukkot? In order to understand we must first take a look at the other times in the Scripture where sukkot were built and why. The first time we find the word sukkot in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 33:17

but Jacob journeyed to Sukkot and built a house for himself, and for his livestock he made booths. That is the reason that place is called Sukkot.

Jacob is on his way back to the Promised Land after his time as a servant with Laban. If we remember back just a few chapters we know that G-D promised Jacob that He would take care of Jacob and bring him home in Shalom. Now over 20 years later Jacob is on his way home, G-D has fulfilled His promises. Jacob meets with his brother Esau, who at one time wanted to kill Jacob because Jacob deceived Isaac and stole Esau’s birthright blessing. But when Jacob arrives contrary to his fears Esau greets him with peace just as G-D had promised. So, what does Jacob do? He builds sukkot. So, we see That Jacob (also known as Israel) leaves the Promised Land and enters becomes a servant to Laban and when he through G-D miracles becomes free and returns to the land of his fathers, he builds and lives in sukkot. Years later Israel the Nation, after having left the land of their fathers and became servants to Egypt for over 400 years is delivered by the miracle power of G-D and upon their deliverance they build and live in sukkot.

The patter of building sukkot when Israel is set free from bondage is established it is no wonder that in John 1:14 we read:

And the Word became flesh and tabernacled (sukkah) among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And in Revelation 21:3 when describing the promised fulfillment of our redemption we read:

I also heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them and be their God.

You see the disciples understood something we are only beginning to come to understand that the commandment found in Leviticus 23:42-43:

You are to live in sukkot for seven days. All the native-born in Israel are to live in sukkot, so that your generations may know that I had Bnei-Yisrael to dwell in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am Adonai your God.”

It was not given so that we can celebrate the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness. After all the reason Israel spent 40 years wandering was because of their unbelief. We are commanded to keep this feast by living in sukkot because living in sukkot is what G-D’s children do when we recognize that G-D has kept His promises. G-D has set us free from bondage. We have been returned to the land of our fathers. Living in sukkot on the Feast of Tabernacles is our way of spending 7 days living in the future. We may still be living within the temporal on Earth, but for those 7 days we live as if the Ephesians 1 has been fulfilled and The Earthly and the Heavenly are together. Or put another way we live by faith Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen.