Called “the season of our joy,” the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) begins tonight and lasts through September 30. I’m grateful that each year the Holy Spirit infuses the biblical feasts with fresh, personal meaning to me. Annually I discover in them new and magnificent expressions of the living Word. I sense a revived alignment with the rhythm and heartbeat of heaven. I find fresh grace for worship and intercession that seems to connect the past, present and future in the I AM beyond time.
This Sukkot is no exception, the Lord having underscored to me the holiday’s unique theme of joy. Sukkot is the only Levitical feast on which God outright commands us to rejoice. (Leviticus 23:40, Deuteronomy 16:14-15) For that reason it is often called the season of our joy.
The joy of Sukkot develops from a divine progression. First comes the awakening, introspective sobriety of Yom Teruah. Then there is repentance and renewed at-one-ment with God on Yom Kippur. The culmination of restored relationship with Him is an invitation to enter into His own, personal joy or “the joy of the Lord.“ (Nehemiah 8:10) In the intimacy of dwelling or tabernacling in God’s presence, we engage with the joy of Hisown heart. He imparts His joy to us. “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) Somehow, dwelling in a sukkah or small booth outdoors for a week, mandated in Leviticus 23:42, helps invoke a sense of God’s near presence.
For that reason, some rabbinic traditions view the Feast of Tabernacles as bridal in nature. Resembling a canopy (“chuppah”), the sukkah is said to symbolize renewal of our marriage covenant with YHVH. Some rabbis have also associated the sukkah with Israel’s future, intimate relationship to Him in the coming Messianic Age. Not unlike these rabbis, I personally view Sukkot as a prophetic foreshadow of God’s coming Kingdom on earth, Messiah ruling magnificently from His holy habitation in Jerusalem.In that day, “the tabernacle of God will be 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.” (Revelation 21:3)
To Jews and Gentiles filled with God’s Spirit in Messiah, the Kingdom of God is already at hand. We can already celebrate Sukkot in the joy of His immanent presence—and with expectant joy of His return.
Our own joy, even as followers of Yeshua, is subject to the flesh and can be erratic. But the Lord’s joy is steady, pure and reviving. We access His joy when, as an act of our will, we align with His heart rather than muster our own sense of merriment. That is why a fruit of the Spirit, of surrendering to and abiding in Him, is joy. A secret to joyfulness is the choice to engage with the Lord’s joy (not our own) and in faith, receive the joy of Hisheart. A lifestyle of praise and thanksgiving helps us receive and sustain that joy. In an increasingly dark world, joy testifies to the power of a supernatural life in God. This is one reason the New Covenant Scriptures tell us to rejoice. (Philippians 4:4, John 15:11)
Sukkot is God’s appointed time to release a special joy to those with faith to receive it. This joy strengthens us for the season ahead. It also serves as a prophetic foretaste—and perhaps intercessory act—of Yeshua’s return. During Sukkot, we rejoice in the greater joy set before us at His future coming. And, I believe, so does He. (It is appropriate to mention here there is evidence in Scripture that Yeshua was possibly born during Sukkot. If He was, the joy associated with this special feast takes on even greater meaning.)
When Messiah returns, not just Israel, but all nations will convene in Jerusalem to rejoice at Sukkot. (Zechariah 14:16-18) His Kingdom rule in peace, righteousness and justice will extend worldwide. His glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. You and I will be thoroughly soaked in the saturating brilliance of His enfolding and empowering, holy love!
In Temple times, the Israelites rejoiced at Sukkot with thanksgiving for the past year’s harvest. In faith, they expressed joyful gratitude for the harvest to come. We can do the same today. Our harvest may be agricultural, or tangible in other ways, and/or spiritual in nature. In any case, the Feast of Tabernacles is an ideal time for God’s people in any nation to rejoice in His past provision, prophetic promises—and in His present Presence.
“I have told you these things so My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
This article originally appeared on Light of Zion, September 23, 2018, and reposted with permission.