The True Meaning of The Feast of Tabernacles

As Jews worldwide celebrate Sukkot, the last festival on the Jewish calendar, I want to share with you my short commentary on Leviticus 23:33-43

The feasts of the Lord are God’s way to have Israel commemorate His love story with them, as well as the blueprint of His plan of salvation and redemption for all sinful mankind. Both are called to leave slavery and bondage and enter into His promised land. Israel and Egypt were the shadow – 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, (34) “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. (35) On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. (36) 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.

(37) ‘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— (38) 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. (39) ‘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. (40) 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. (41) 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. (42) You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 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.’” (Leviticus 23:33-43)

The Exodus of Israel from Egypt was the historical event that God wanted Israel not to forget. Jeremiah the prophet describes how God says: “….the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt…” (Jeremiah 31:32)

Of all the feasts that the Lord had prescribed for Israel to celebrate in commemoration of His relationship with them since, 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. 17 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. 18 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. 19 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. (Zachariah 14:16-19)

Pay attention that none of the other 6 feasts are to be celebrated by the gentiles in the future but 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 Zachariah’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, and then gentiles from outside of Israel together with the Jews in the land itself, will be 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 judgement, are the major events that would usher the period of the fulfilment of this great festival.

No doubt that although Tabernacles is about the exodus from Egypt and the 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. The shift is made from our Tabernacles in the past to His Tabernacle among people in the future.

This is why we read in the Book of Revelation the following:

“… 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…”(Revelation 21:3)

May we all remember that in order to reign with Him during that thousand years kingdom we must first go through the first feasts and believe in the Passover sacrifice that lived Unleavened life became the first fruits from among those who fell asleep and sent during Pentecost His holy spirit to be with us until the last trumpet when He will be take us to escape the tribulation. As He returns, then ALL Israel will be saved as they mourn during their last day of atonement.

Don’t skip the 6 festivals if you want to reign with Him during the 7th one!

This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, October 16, 2016, and reposted with permission.