A Shadow of What Is to Come


This next Shabbat is the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, it is called the celebration of the Joy of the Torah. During the High Holidays the readings do not follow the regular weekly order, there are special readings for the Holidays.

This Shabbat, October 10th, 2020, the reading in the synagogues will be as follows: from the Torah – Leviticus 23:24-36, 39. From the prophets the reading will be 2 Chronicles 7:9, and from the New Testament we read from John 7:37-39. All of the readings are connected to the feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles).

This reading has some very important implications from the record of the Gospel of John chapter 7. We read only a small portion of chapter 7, but I recommend for you to read the whole chapter 7 in the Gospel of John. From the beginning of the chapter there are mysterious things happening.

Yeshua is invited by his disciples and his brothers to join them in the holy pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Sukkot (Tabernacles) is one of the three main biblical festivals where Israel is commanded to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

In the book of Zechariah, chapter 14, every nation of the world will have to send their representatives to come to Jerusalem at this feast and give homage to the God of Israel.

The reason for this future command is a little complicated, but it is rooted in the Torah. Israel, from its birth as a nation in the desert of Sinai and its receiving of the Torah from God, has had to offer during the holiday of Sukkot 70 bulls – a bull for every nation.

In the eschatology of Zechariah chapter 14 we learn the following:

“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.” – Zechariah 14:16 [NKJV]

This prophecy of Zechariah is actually a kind of fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis chapters 12 and 22, and to Isaac in Genesis chapter 26.

All the nations (the families of the world) will on that day worship the God of Israel and leave their idolatry behind and accept the Lord God of Israel as their God, and of course together with the God of Israel they will be blessed and accept the only one and true God, the Creator of the Universe.

The essence of the Feast of Tabernacles is that our lives in the world are all like the Sukkah – a temporary structure that is totally vulnerable to the elements of nature, to the rain and the wind and the heat of the sun by day.

So the Feast of Tabernacles is a prophetic feast that involves all the nations of the world, and a prophetic prediction that the day will come when all the world, all the nations of the world, will accept the God of Israel and reject their idols and worship God in Jerusalem.

So, Sukkot is a very special feast with eschatological implications for the future and historical implications for all the nations. For this reason it is important for Christians to understand the feast and to receive the historical and theological implications.

The most important aspect of the Feast of Sukkot is that from the highest moment when, “all is well, my barns are full, my wine jars are full, and my bank account is full.” The reminder that all is transient and temporary and that our life in this world is insecure that we are really only nomads passing through his life to get to somewhere else has both a medical and psychological as well as spiritual effect for equipping us to lead a healthier and more secure life.

Just building the Sukkah, a temporary, shabby, insecure structure that allows the rain and the wind to come in as well as the cold and heat, and that nothing in the Sukkah has any permanent value, reminds us that this is also true of our lives which have no permanence.

The practice of eating our meals in the Sukkah and after eight days taking it down, acts as a great healing factor that focuses our lives on the eternal and reminds us both physically, and emotionally, that heaven is our home and all that we have and want in this world is at best temporary, fragile, and vulnerable to all aspects of time.

So we read chapter 14 of the prophet Zechariah, who spent part of his life in the diaspora (exile) of the “Los Angles” of his time, or Babylon, probably not far from the Babylonian Disney World.

He comes back to the ruined city of Jerusalem and writes about an international coalition and war against Jerusalem. Zechariah then speaks of the one who was pierced (chapter 12:10ff) and of the whole world gathering to Jerusalem, this time to offer worship to the God of Israel on the Feast of Sukkot.

Yes, the most transient becomes the most permanent. The most hated by the pagan nations becomes their place of adoration and worship and the source of their prosperity. This is Sukkot – “a shadow of what is to come.”

This article originally appeared on Netivyah, October 8, 2020, and reposted with permission.