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God’s Holy Days And The Plan of Salvation; Feast of Tabernacles
God’s Holy Days And
The Plan of Salvation;
Feast of Tabernacles
"Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto The Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before The Lord your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto The Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am The Lord your God."
(Leviticus 23:39-43 KJV)
The Feast of Tabernacles is a week-long autumn harvest festival. Tabernacles is also known as the Feast of the Ingathering, Feast of the Booths, Sukkoth, Succoth, or Sukkot (variations in spellings occur because these words are transliterations of the Hebrew word pronounced “Sue-coat”).
Tabernacles is the last of the three pilgrimage festivals. Like Passover and Pentecost, Tabernacles has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Tabernacles commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, it is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as the Festival of Ingathering.
As The Feast of Tabernacles approached, the entire Jewish nation started making preparations. Work crews were sent to repair roads and bridges for the thousands of pilgrims that were coming to Jerusalem. During the festival many Jews ate, and slept, in the booths or huts, which were built in the five days between Atonement and this festival.
The Feast of Tabernacles is by far the most festive and joyous of occasions. History records that four huge candelabra were constructed, lighted, and attended by young men climbing ladders periodically with pitchers of oil to keep them burning. The light from these lamps illuminated the whole city, and around them danced distinguished men with torches in their hands, singing hymns and songs of praise. The dancing as well as the music continued until daybreak. It was an extravaganza (Somerville 1995).
The holiday was celebrated following the outline in Leviticus: they lived in booths made of boughs of trees and branches of palm trees for the seven days of the feast (Lev. 23:42). They rested from all regular work on the first and eighth days. The Priest offered sacrifices on the seven days, beginning with thirteen bullocks and other animals on the first day and diminishing by one bullock each day until, on the seventh, seven bullocks were offered. On the eighth day there was a solemn assembly when one bullock, one ram, and seven lambs were offered (Num. 29:36). Men carried clusters of branches to the synagogue to wave as they rejoiced before the Lord, as commanded by the Lord (Lev. 23:40).
The word "Sukkot" means "booths," and refers to the temporary dwellings that the Israelites were commanded to live in during this holiday in memory of their wandering in the wilderness. The name of the holiday is frequently translated "Feast of Tabernacles," which, like many translations of Jewish terms, isn't very useful. This translation is particularly misleading, because the word "tabernacle" in the Bible refers to the portable Sanctuary in the desert, a precursor to the Temple, called in Hebrew "mishkan." The Hebrew word "sukkah" (plural: "sukkot") refers to the temporary booths that people lived in, not to the Tabernacle.
Water was also an important part of the Feast of Tabernacles. Before the festival, the Rabbis taught on every passage in Scripture dealing with water. In Old Testament Biblical times, gold pitchers of water were brought from the pool of Siloam to the temple. The Priest would pour out the water over the altar to signify Israel’s gratitude for the rain that had produced the harvest, and would pray for rain in the coming year. The priest would recite Isaiah 12:1-3;
And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
This ceremony was performed only during the Feast of Tabernacles. The purpose was twofold; one was to remind God of the need for abundant rain during the winter season, and the other was to remind the people of the coming Messiah who had promised to pour out His Holy Spirit on the people.
Christ and the Feast of Tabernacles
Many scholars believe Jesus was born during the Feast of Tabernacles. Although the Bible does not specifically say the date of Jesus’ birth, we know that it was not during the winter months because the sheep were in the pasture (Luke 2:8).
An examination of the time of the conception of John the Baptist reveals he was conceived about Sivan 30, the eleventh week. When Zechariah was ministering in the temple, he received an announcement from God of a coming son. The eighth course of Abia, when Zechariah was ministering, was the week of Sivan 12 to 18 (Killian). Adding forty weeks for a normal pregnancy reveals that John the Baptist was born on or about Passover (Nisan 14). Six months after John’s conception, Mary conceived Jesus (Luke 1:26-33) which would be in the month of Kislev. Kislev 25 is Hanukkah. Was the “light of the world” conceived on the festival of lights? Starting at Hanukkah, which begins on Kislev 25 and continues for eight days, and counting through the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy, one arrives at the approximate time of the birth of Jesus at the Festival of Tabernacles (the early fall of the year).
During the Feast of Tabernacles, God required all male Jews to come to Jerusalem. The many pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the festivals would spill over to the surrounding towns (Bethlehem is about five miles from Jerusalem). Joseph and Mary were unable to find a room at the inn because of the influx of so many pilgrims. They may have been given shelter in a sukkah, which is built during a seven-day period each year accompanying the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. Due to the difficulties during travel, it was common for the officials to declare tax time during a templeFeast (Luke 2:1). The Hebrew word “stable” is called a sukkoth (Gen. 33:17).
A short time after the birth Joseph and Mary took the child and fled to Egypt and remained there until they were told by God that Herod was dead. They brought the baby Jesus to Jerusalem forty days from His birth for Mary’s purification and the child’s dedication (according to the Torah this had to be done within forty days of the birth of a male child–not doing so is considered a sin). This indicates that Herod died within the same forty days, because as long as Herod was alive, they could not appear at the Temple. (According to Josephus’ calculations, Herod’s death occurred during the autumn in the fourth year before the Common Era 4 b.c.e.).
"Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which He shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty," (Deuteronomy 16:16)
Recall Passover/Days of Unleavened Bread represent Christ’s sacrifice and Pentecost represented the outpouring of the Holy Spirit then Tabernacles must represent something important in God’s plan of salvation. Most Bible scholars agree that Tabernacles represents the beginning of the Millennium.
But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more
Tabernacles and Passover are the only holidays mentioned in the millennial worship (Ezek. 45:21-25; Zech. 14:16).
As we have seen Passover is in the first month of the religious calendar and Tabernacles is in the first month of the civil calendar. Hosea 6:3 explains Christ will come as the latter and former rain; Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. Recall that the spring holidays are during the former rain and the fall holidays are during the latter rain.
The temporary shelters that are built and occupied during the Feast of Tabernacles picture human physical bodies which are "constructed" and "lived in" during our mortal lifetimes. The apostle Paul referred to this:
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."
(2 Corinthians 5:1-4 KJV)
Our permanent home is being prepared for. Jesus said in John 14:2-3, In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
So we have seen how the Holy Days illustrate God’s plan of salvation for his chosen people; those that have God’s spirit. But what about those that don’t? And as we have seen that Jesus Christ is the only way someone can gain salvation so what about those that lived before Christ was born? Are they just a victim of bad luck or what of those untold millions that have never heard about Christ? Are they too out of luck? God is among other things fair and just; everyone will get a chance to decide whether or not to accept Christ and life; eternal life. That is what the last feast portrays, this worldwide or more accurately human-wide chance. While it is actually a separate feast we shall deal with it here with Tabernacles.
The Last Great Day an Overview
...on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly [margin: "day of restraint"]; and ye shall do no servile work therein . . . on the eighth day shall be a sabbath
(Leviticus 23:36, 39)
As was shown Tabernacles lasts for seven days and then God commanded that right after the last day of the Feast another one was to be held. While technically this last feast is a separate ordained Sabbath many include it when they mention Tabernacles. Each day during the Feast of Tabernacles, a priest drew an urn of water from the pool of Siloam and carried it through the Water Gate while the people recited Isaiah 12:3 "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." Once inside the city, they paraded the urn of water to the altar accompanied by a choir singing Psalms 113–118. To conclude the ritual, the priest poured the water on the altar as an offering to God. However, on the last day, the great day of the Feast, they marched seven times around the altar before pouring the water; recall how in Hebrew thought seven denotes completion or fulfillment.
Christ and the Last Great Day
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life
the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a
famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 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. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. 6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. 7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. 8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. 10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: ... And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one Lord and his name one ... And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles
The Great White Throne Judgment
The above scriptures picture the world after the Day of the Lord and after Satan is finally removed. But those people that are alive are those that have survived the great tribulation and the Day of the Lord. Based on scriptures that speak of those events the number of survivors is going to be very small. They will be ministered to by Christ and those saints that were either raised from the dead at the second coming or were still alive at that time and were changed into spirit beings.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth . . . who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
(I Timothy 2:3-4, 6)
Recall that Jesus Christ is the only "name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved". So what of those untold millions that for whatever reason never heard of Christ or had the chance to accept him?
But, beloved…The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
(II Peter 3:8-9)
Does that mean that those that for whatever reason never ehard of Christ essentially get a spiritual “get out of jail free” card? No, as Jesus explains in John 5:25-29;
Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
We need to look at and understand the word krisis, variously translated "judgment" or "condemnation" (verses 22, 27, 29-30). According to The Complete Word Study Dictionary by Spiros Zodhiates, krisis generally means "separation," "decision," "division," "turn of affairs" and "judgment." The Companion Bible defines it as "a separating, a judgment, especially of judicial proceedings." Notice that it doesn’t indicate the end of a matter.
The Greek word krisis and bears a close resemblance to the English word "crisis." Crisis means "a turning point for better or worse" in a matter or a series of events. It isn’t actually the end, but a critical point, and the matter continues. It would seem that krisis indicates a turn of affairs, a turning point, in a person's life. It may be the end, but, then again, it may be a time when his life takes a considerable turn! Maybe God has, for the first time, revealed Himself and His purpose to him so he may be judged.
In the biblical sense, judgment can indicate a span during which a process is happening. The decision, or sentence, comes at the end of the judgment. I Peter 4:17 shows this pattern in relation to the church; "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?" Here the word translated "judgment" is from the Greek krima. According to Zodhiates, this word comes from the same root as krisis, but in this case, it indicates the act of judging, including the final decision or sentence.
The Bible uses this word only in reference to future reward and punishment. Again there is an indication of an active process, not just a final decision. The process includes both what the Judge is doing (observing, evaluating; Psalm 11:4) as well what the judged are doing. Psalm 11:4 The Lord is in his holy Temple, the Lord's seat is in heaven; his eyes are watching and testing the children of men. A judgment cannot be made without both.
Peter says, "The time has come for judgment to begin," indicating that the judging did not officially start until Christ founded the church. Now that it has begun, all mankind will eventually be included within God's judgment. Thus the pattern for judgment is being established in the church. So when does this process begin for the rest of mankind?
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. . . . And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
A first resurrection suggests that there will be, at least, a second. The verse clearly says the second occurs one thousand years after the first. Verse 6 states that death has no power over those in the first resurrection which would seem to indicate that death will have power over those in the second. The second resurrection, therefore, must be a resurrection to physical life. Verse 6 also repeats from verse 4 that those in the first resurrection will reign with Christ. This would indicate that His government is established, functioning and executing judgment, among other things.
The events mentioned in verses Rev 20:7-10 occur at the end of the thousand years. Verses 11-12 occur immediately afterward and describe the second resurrection mentioned in verse 5. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great standing before God, and the books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
Recall that in 1 Timothy 2:3-4, 6 it says that God wills all men to be saved but in due time and how currently God is judging his true church. It is now, during the Great White Throne Judgment that the rest of the world gets its chance at receiving eternal life.
Scripture reveals God has blinded ancient Israel to his truth;
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening [blindness, KJV] in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. . . . For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
(Rom 11:25, 32)
Further this blindness continues;
"But their minds were hardened [blinded, KJV]. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart"
But it will not remain forever;
"And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'"
And when shall this blindness be removed? While it is not explicitly stated, Ezek. 37:12-14 indicates that it will occur at this time; the Great White Throne Judgment period;
Therefore prophesy and say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,' says the LORD."
God has not overlooked the Gentiles; it is at this time that they too will receive their chance at eternal life. In Mat 12:41-42, Jesus confirms that they will rise at the same time as the Israelites and experience the same judgment;
The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.
Notice that Jesus calls it the judgment. Just how long will this period last isn’t clear; although there is indication that it will last one hundred years;
There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed
It is mentioned in Rev. 20:12 that books will be opened during the period. What are these books that are opened and the people judged by? The Greek word translated "books" in Rev 20:12 is biblia, and it is from this word that the English word bible is derived. The books that will be opened are the books of the Bible! Recall that even the disciples didn’t understand the scriptures as they related to Christ; Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, (Luke 24:45). If they, who had spent three years in close personal contact with Christ, didn’t understand the scriptures, just how confused do you think that someone that has never even heard of Christ will be? Further consider someone that has never heard of Christ or was deceived by an imitation of Christ’s message wouldn’t one hundred years of expert help and guidance be enough?
Recall that it says that those who are a part of the first resurrection shall be kings and priests under Christ indicating there will be duties that will need to be handled; apparently these duties will be teaching and guiding those resurrected individuals in God’s way.
Why an 8th day?
One may wonder why God added this eighth day? Remember in earlier lessons we saw that the number seven in the Bible indicates completion and perfection. The Hebrew word seven is shevah from the root word savah, to be full or satisfied, to have enough of. This seventh festival of God reveals the perfection of God's great Master Plan; that God's love and mercy toward mankind will extend beyond the Millennium.
This seventh holy day is observed immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles. It is also the eighth day of the Feast, and the Hebrew word for "eight" is related to another meaning "fatness," implying abundance, fertility; even resurrection and regeneration. Though closely connected to the Feast of Tabernacles, it holds a distinct meaning of its own. It is part of it, yet separate. If seven is the number of completion, eight is the number of new beginnings.
 see also Exodus 23:14-17, 34:23
 Acts 4:12