Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to prostrate himself the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Sukkot). – Zechariah 14:16
This weekend, we end the celebration of Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Tabernacles). As we can see from Zechariah 14:16, this very special appointed time has a significant connection to the future, as those who will be left from amongst the nations — true followers of the Messiah who will not join the nations in gathering against Jerusalem — will join Israel in coming up to Jerusalem, to worship the King, who I personally believe is Yeshua, our King and promised Messiah, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
Sukkot is one of the most prophetically significant feasts in Scripture. One of the most interesting things about Sukkot is that on the seventh day, the Jewish people celebrate “Hoshana Rabbah”, which is followed by “Shemini Atzeret”/Simchat Torah. Hoshana Rabbah is also known as the “The Great Supplication” or “The Great Salvation” and tradition connects it to the final Day of Judgment.
Shemini Atzeret is actually its own appointed time, which comes right after Sukkot and is mentioned in Numbers 29:35–38:
On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly; you shall do no laborious work. But you shall present a burnt offering, an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD: one bull, one ram, seven male lambs one year old without defect; their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bull, for the ram and for the lambs, by their number according to the ordinance; and one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.
The meaning of the word “atzeret” (“עֲצֶרֶת”) is “to assemble or to gather to pray and to offer offerings to the Lord.” I find it interesting that we find this very same word in connection to Passover in Deuteronomy 16:8, “Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly (atzeret) to the LORD your God; you shall do no work on it.” This connection to Passover is very important, as we will see.
During Shemini Atzeret, we also celebrate Simchat Torah, which means the “Rejoicing with/of the Torah.” It is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah reading portions and the beginning of a new cycle.However, I believe that this holiday is actually a celebration of something bigger, which is the Word of God itself! Not only do we celebrate the great privilege that we have to read and understand God’s Word, but also Yeshua Himself, who isthe Word made flesh!
It is also important to note that during this time, in the synagogues we pray a special prayer asking God to bless us with rain. I believe this is yet another connection between Shemini Atzeret and our Messiah as He is the source of living water in our lives, that if we drink, we will never spiritually thirst again.
I started this blog entry by suggesting that Sukkot has a significant connection to the future. We are all eagerly awaiting Yeshua’s return, but I personally believe that a condition for His return is the restoration of the assembly of Israel back to God (please see Matthew 23:37–39).
In the book of Nehemiah, (I highly encourage you to read the entire book) we find an incredible picture similar to what I believe will happen in the future to the people of Israel with regard to the restoration to God. It may happen on Sukkot just like in the days of Nehemiah with the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem: God’s Word will be read in front of the Gate of Water, the Sukkot (Booths) will be rebuilt, and the ultimate collective confession of the entire assembly of Israel will be made for our iniquities before the Lord. Part of this incredibly moving account is recorded in Nehemiah 9:1–3:
Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.
This verse reminds me of Zechariah 12:10, when collectively, the nation of Israel will recognize her Messiah:
I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
Is it possible that in the biblical feasts we find the mark of two types of redemption — one, personal and the other, corporate? Yeshua came the first time to offer final forgiveness for sin as the fulfillment of Passover; in order for the Gentiles (nations) to also be grafted in to the Tree of Israel, the entirety of Israel did not accept Him (Romans 11). Could it be that His second coming will be for the entire nation of Israel, as a people, and those who have been grafted in? I believe this is exactly what Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:15, 26 speak of!
My dear brothers and sisters, we have something great to look forward to! In the meantime, let us not grow weary, but keep our eyes focused on what God has called us to — to build His Kingdom.
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.