Feast of Tabernacles 2013 . . .
Wednesday Evening, September 18 - Thursday, September 26
The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths, as the name implies) is one of the three "pilgramige" festivals mandated by God in the Old Testament. Leviticus 23 teaches that along with the weekly Sabbath day, the Israelites are to observe the festival of Pesach (Passover as well as the 7 days of unleavened bread), Shavuot (Penitcost), and Sukkot (Yom Teruah (Trumpets)), Yom Kippur (Atonement), and Tabernacles or Booths along with the one day festival call 'Shemini Atzoreth', the 'Eighth Day'). Each of the festivals (except for the weekly sabbath) are centered around an agricultural harvest, and as such, illustrate God's plan of salvation for all mankind. Without a good understanding of the festivals, a person simply can not have a biblically based understanding of how God intends to bring salvation to His people.
In spite of the fact that today the Jewish people are the most visible people observing these festivals, the festivals are not necessarily Jewish. The text shows that these are 'Feasts of the Lord', given to all twelve tribes of Israel, not just the Jews. Because of a person's belief in Yeshua (Jesus), the observance of these festivals is extended to him, since . . .
. . . if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. NKJ Galatians 3:29
In verse 2 of Leviticus 23, the Hebrew word for 'feast' is 'moed'. In Hebrew thought, a moed is likened unto an appointment. It's as if God Himself was taking time off from His duties to meet with us. It's sort of like a date - a special time between God and His people. For those of us who are married, we know how important it is to be there when you've "got a date", and we would do practically anything not to miss it. A study of Biblical history will show that many major events took place on one or more of the 'moedim' (the plural form of 'moed').
Also in verse 2, we find the word 'convocation' which is translated from the Hebrew word 'mikrah'. This Hebrew word implies a reading, presumably of a historical event. It comes from another word that can mean 'rehearsal'. The Biblical text is very clear that the Sabbath is a rehearsal of the seventh day of creation - when God rested from His work. The moedim are likewise rehearsals of God's 7000 year plan, culminating with the marriage of The Messiah to His bride.
Leviticus 23:6 uses the word 'feast' for the translation of another Hebrew word "chag". This word implies an assembly. This word is derived from another Hebrew word which means "to be giddy and to dance". Thus, God's festivals are to be happy occasions, a time for rejoicing in song, dance, good food, etc..
Each year, more and more Christians are coming to the understanding that there is value in observing the festivals. In doing so, they see the scriptures begin to open up and make greater sense. We invite you to share in the JOY of observing the Festivals of God.
Leviticus 23:33 discusses the festival of Sukkot (additional information is found in Deuteronomy 16 and elsewhere). This fall festival takes place just after the fall harvest in Jerusalem. It was a yearly reminder of how God provided for the Israelites during their forty years in the wilderness - a time when God dwelled in their midst, fed them daily with bread from Heaven, caused their clothes to not wear out, and provided them with righteous judges. This temporary time in the wilderness was a picture of the millennial kingdom to come.
Solomon's Temple was dedicated during the feast of Tabernacles. This was another millennial picture, signifying the establishment of the Davidic dynasty, from which our Messiah sprang. Though Solomon later turned to idolatry, his (early) kingdom exemplified the millennial kingdom in that Solomon enjoyed tremendous wisdom, great riches, peace with all his neighbors, God dwelling in the Temple, and the establishment again of righteous judges.
In ancient times, the Israelite people would make pilgrimages to Jerusalem three times each year in order to observe the festivals. Along with their wives and families, they would bring their offerings from the best of their crops and herds, along with the tithes of their increase. These were joyous times, since they reflected the blessings God had bestowed on a people who walked in His ways.
During the festival of Sukkot, the people would build small huts (sukkot) to live in. The people would enjoy shopping at the bazaars, visiting the numerous winery's, dining at the various inns, and fellowshipping with friends and relatives. They would also participate in the many activities taking place at the Temple - listening to an inspired teacher (maybe Yeshua himself), watching the priests perform their daily functions, taking part in the daily prayers, joining the throngs of people watching the priests gather water for the Beit ha Shuavah (the Water Pouring Ceremony), and of course, offering their sacrifices and offerings. There was always so much a person could do.
At night, the official Temple services were finished, and the Temple took on another role. Each evening four poles containing four lights each were erected in the 'Court of the Women" just east of the Temple proper. Each light consisted of a large bowl of oil, and in each bowl was a number of wicks made from 'swaddling clothes, the worn out garments of the priests. When these lights were lit, it is said that they lit up the entire city of Jerusalem, making it, in effect, a shining light on a hill. Under these lights, many people would congregate, dancing and rejoicing through the night.
The first and last days of the festival were considered 'Sabbaths'. On these days, as well as the weekly Sabbath, the stores and inns were closed. These days were spent resting and studying at the synagogue. There were specific readings for each of these days, and most of the people could recite them from memory. Special events were also taking place at the Temple, as additional sacrifices were made on these days.
The prophet Zachariah said that not only God's people, but all mankind would be required to come up to Jerusalem each fall and observe the festival of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16-19). The penalty for not doing so would be that there would be no rain, i.e - famine. Being that Sukkot is such a joyous occasion, why would a people not want to enjoy the the festival? 'Makes you wonder!