The Feast of Tabernacles, Lighthouses, and Jesus—Light of the World
In Part One of this article "Waterfalls", I shared about the lessons I learned while on a vacation in Duluth Minnesota which seemed to focus on the theme of water which also corresponded to the current feast of the Jewish Religious calendar called "Tabernacles"
The second theme of our vacation was lighthouses. We saw them as frequently as we did waterfalls. I couldn't consider it coincidental that the two common themes of our vacation being waterfalls and lighthouses also aligned with the two traditional symbols of the impending observance of the Feast of Tabernacles which in biblical times included the pouring of water and the illumination of the temple. Both the illustrations of water and light provided the perfect imagery for understanding and visualizing God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Jesus—Light of the World
David Brickner from "Jews for Jesus" explains the relevance of light connected with the observance of The Feast of Tabernacles and this festival's connection with Jesus's declaration that He is the Light of the World.
"At the end of the first day of the Feast, the Temple was gloriously illuminated. According to the Mishnah (part of the oral tradition of the rabbis), gigantic candelabras stood within the court of the women. Each of the four golden candelabras is said to have been 50 cubits high. A cubit is somewhere between 18 and 22 inches, so we're talking about candelabras that were about 75 feet tall! Each candelabra had four branches, and at the top of every branch there was a large bowl. Four young men bearing 10 gallon pitchers of oil would climb ladders to fill the four golden bowls on each candelabra. And then the oil in those bowls was ignited.
Picture sixteen beautiful blazes leaping toward the sky from these golden lamps. Remember that the Temple was on a hill above the rest of the city, so the glorious glow was a sight for the entire city to see. In addition to the light, Levitical musicians played their harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets to make joyful music to the Lord. What a glorious celebration! The light was to remind the people of how God's Shekinah glory had once filled His Temple. [Dedication of Solomon's Temple and the descent of the Shekinah (visible Glory) took place at this feast (I Kings 8, II Chron. 7)] But in the person of Jesus, God's glory was once again present in that Temple. And He used that celebration to announce that very fact. He was teaching in the court of women just after the Feast, perhaps standing right next to those magnificent candelabras when He declared to all who were gathered there, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life"
,John 18:12." 1
Lighthouses have two main purposes.
- to steer mariners, in dense fog and on dark nights, away from dangerous unseen obstacles that would more than likely lead them to entire wreckage.
- to mark safe entries into safe harbors. Altogether they are a fixed point of reference used by mariners to navigate safely on their journey to the desired destination.
The Light of the World Calls Us From Darkness Into Safe Harbor
I can't think of anything darker, dense, and thickly fogged than trying to navigate through this life without the Lord, His living Word and His Holy Spirit guiding us through it and to our eternal destinations. And I can't think of anything more fixed and stable than Jesus our Savior as our source of light.
From this description of the temple lit, set high on a hill above the rest of the city, there is clearly the resemblance and imagery of a lighthouse, a guidepost for all to see. On the one hand, warning of the impending danger of living eternally in the dark, lost and without hope, without Him, and on the other a beacon beckoning all to come to the one and only safe harbor and the one and only true "Light of the world." He is trying to lead us to our eternal destination and away from the dangerous eternal darkness and doom.
The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.
— Isaiah 9:2
Why does Jesus compare Himself to light? Here again, as with water, studied in part one, we also find an element that we cannot live without. "The existence of nearly all life on earth is fueled by light from the sun." Just as our spiritual life exists and is fueled by light from our heavenly source Jesus.2
Much like the water was in the beginning. The light was there too. The light was the very first thing called forth in the account of creation telling us that everything else that was created depended upon the light. Just as our lives apart from Him are dark without form, void, empty and nothing but chaos and confusion. (tohu v'bohu).
A Word From Spurgeon
"May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their life-boat, and their harbor . . . let us follow ever in his wake, mark his signals, steer by his chart, and never fear while he is within hail. Not one ship in the convoy shall suffer wreck; the great Commodore will steer every barque in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will slip our cable for another day's cruise, and sail forth with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey him; and, therefore, whatever squalls may occur without, faith shall feel a blessed calm within. He is ever in the center of the weather-beaten company: let us rejoice in him. His vessel has reached the haven, and so shall ours".
“The fox hides to its hole for protection; the bird flies to the wood for shelter; and even so the tried believer hastens to the mercy seat for safety. Heaven’s great harbor of refuge is All-prayer; thousands of weather-beaten vessels have found a haven there, and the moment a storm comes on, it is wise for us to make for it with all sail.”
"As speeds the ship towards the port, so hastes the believer towards the haven of his Savior's bosom"
The Light of the World Was Is and Is To Come
Phil Olson a Messianic friend explains how Jesus has been the light of the world since the beginning.
"If you read in Genesis it says that on the 1st day G-d said "Let there be Light" that Light was and is Yeshua (Jesus). We know this because it wasn't until the 4th day that G-d created the heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon and stars. So Yeshua was called forth from eternity by His Father at the inception of time. G-d Called forth His Son out of the realm of eternity and into the realm of time"
Could it be that before the fall that the atmosphere of the garden was illuminated by the presence of the Most Holy God in the person of Jesus? Could it be that it was He who walked with them and talked with them? And when they disqualified themselves from their right to remain there they lost the source of life and light that fueled their eternal existence.
I believe that Jesus' announcement on the Feast of Tabernacles that He is the Light of the World" is His call for us to come out of the darkness and return to the light eternal.
. . . that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
— I Peter 2:9
He is the Light in the Past, Present, and Future
In the book of Revelation, we are told that "the Light of the world" is the atmosphere of the "New" City.
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
— Revelation 21:22-23
There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
— Revelation 22:5
Just as with the water we see this pattern come full circle we see that He was the light (before time began), He is the light (New Testament to now), and He is the light that is to come (Eternal life).
Light and Evaporation—Resurrection
Let's pull the two concepts of water and light together for a moment. Interestingly enough light is essential in the evaporation (resurrection) process that we studied in the previous "Waterfalls" article. "The sun (light), which drives the water cycle, heats water in the oceans and evaporates as vapor into the air." (3)
“Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; Nor can the number of His years be discovered. For He draws up drops of water, Which distill as rain from the mist, Which the clouds drop down And pour abundantly on man.
— Job 36:26-28
We see how water is drawn up by the light. Light has resurrecting power.
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
— John 6:44
In this next verse, we see how He is drawing us up to be distilled (cleansed) leaving all the bad behind and be resurrected to a new life. And again we see as we did with the water there is a call to come.
The call to light is observed in plant life as well. I have a lot of plants and every one of them is being called to the light. I can see them reach in response to its call. If I don't turn them occasionally they will be lopsided with all their leaves facing the sun. It also makes me think of a budding plant. A seed is buried in dark soil as if it were dead. When the sun's energy and rays warm the soil it calls that seed to life to grow up and be resurrected to a new life.
The Call to Eternal Life by Light
Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. “Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; Your sons shall come from afar, And your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Then you shall see and become radiant, And your heart shall swell with joy; Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.
— Isaiah 60;1-5
The great thing about spiritual provisions is that they are eternal. They cannot be destroyed nor taken away. This earth will pass away along with everything in it. No one makes it out of here alive by a physical means. So for us to only be concerned with our physical well being on this planet is futile. For us to depend on only the natural things of this world that we can see will ultimately end in loss and disappointment. Science is even considering the potential that the sun will not last forever, which is why it is so vital to come to the eternal source of light that never goes out. Everything is here is temporary and subject to change and disintegration. Everything with Him is forever.
“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, Nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the LORD will be your everlasting light, And the days of your mourning shall be ended.
— Isaiah 60:19-20
The last aspect I would like to look at concerning this concept of light and the Feast of Tabernacles has to do with Jesus healing a blind man during this feast, where He once again declares Himself to be "The Light of the World".
as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
— John 9:1-7
Detached and Separated
We know that light is essential to vision. We cannot see without it. This man's blindness is a picture of how it is with us spiritually. According to Wikipedia online encyclopedia, the retina in our eyes is a light-sensitive tissue that initiates a cascade of chemical and electrical events that ultimately trigger nerve impulses. These are sent to various visual centers of the brain via the optic nerve and that is how we "See" If that light-sensitive tissue is detached blindness is the result.4
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
— Isaiah 59:1
The original spiritual state we are born into is detached from the "Light". The man was born blind, in the dark. We are all born spiritually blind. His parent's particular sins were not to blame for this condition.
The works of God revealed in this man's story is the restoration of the sight of those who are willing to come to the one whom He "sent" (Siloam) and be washed, cleansed, restored, and forgiven by the "Living Water."
Light and Water are the first two elements of creation exhibiting the work of God in bringing substance and function out of disorder and chaos.
The Cause of Our Separated State
There is another event during this feast, previous to the healing of the blind man, that explains how we arrived at this place of being born detached from the light.
In this case, Jesus was presented with a woman caught in the act of adultery. The religious ones who brought her to Him thought that they might use this situation as an opportunity to entrap Jesus into making an unpopular decision based upon their interpretation of the law. But Jesus, instead, entraps and confronts them by their own accusations against this woman, by pointing out their spiritual adultery against God. This returned accusation is delivered by a simple act that is delivered in silence as He stoops to write something in the dirt. What did He write that so unsettled them?
O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the LORD, The fountain of living waters.”
— Jeremiah 17:13
According to the above verse, it is very likely that Jesus was writing was their names on the earth. As leaders, they knew the scriptures well, and they would have known this verse and what it meant. They also would have known that the book of Jeremiah, from where this verse is from, is about a prophet who came to confront the nation about their spiritual adultery against God. Essentially their trap ended up entrapping themselves.
They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen.
— Psalm 57:6
This is why Jesus finally said to them "He who has not sinned cast the first stone". They were guilty of the very same crime for which they were dragging this woman before Him. Deuteronomy makes this accusation against them in light of what Christ is trying to tell them how they have been adulterous themselves and deserving of the very same.
“If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing His covenant, who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first (cast the first stone) against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you.
— Deuteronomy 17:2-7
what He was essentially saying to them and us through these two events (the blind man and the woman caught in adultery) was that they, and we, are all born into sin through an act of spiritual adultery initially committed in a garden long ago and subsequently continued throughout the course of time and history. We turned to another "source" and that is why we are blind. They and we were, just as guilty of being adulterous with God prior to Christ's coming. He was trying to communicate to her accusers that they, too, needed Him and His forgiveness. And that they, too, were in the dark committing adultery against God. He was inviting them to see that they, too, needed the light.
He did not condemn her.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
— John 3:17
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
— Romans 3:23
He was showing us how we came to the condition that we are and how we need to be forgiven, cleansed, and enlightened by Him whether blatant sinner or seemingly religious.
Let's mix this up with the water again. Recall in the account of the healing of the blind man, Jesus spits and made mud to put on his eyes. Spitting and making mud from the ground seems like an odd thing to do. If we look at this through the 'light' of scripture, however, it makes more sense.
In the Old Testament spitting on someone was executed upon a person who was in a state of rebellion. (Deut. 25, Numb.12) Such is the case with us before Christ. The dust of the ground is a symbol of the shame, humiliation, and the broken-down state that is the result of a rebellious existence. So we see that this man is a picture of us as sinners born blind and in a state of rebellion, broken, humiliated and deteriorating. The man is then told to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The word Siloam means "sent". The pool was called this because of the spring water 'sent' forth from the mount of the natural temple. And we now know this is a picture of the Holy Spirit of Christ come down from heaven from our previous lesson. In verse four of John chapter nine, Jesus tells us that He was "sent". He is showing us that He is the "One sent" who wishes to cleanse us from our rebellion and brokenness so that we can finally see the "Light."
Another quote from biblebeleivers.org put it so eloquently:
"The water is a type of the Holy Spirit which flows from Jesus Christ. It washes away our Spiritual blindness as the waters of Siloam washed away the natural blindness of this man. It washed the clay or carnality from his eyes, and he received both natural and Spiritual sight."6
So we see the "Light of the World" Drawing adulterous and sinful mankind to come to the "one sent" to be washed and cleansed and to have our sight restored so we can see the "light". We all need to be cleansed from our sin, rebellion, and shame.
The remission of our sins is the only way to be restored. The following is a verse about John the Baptist who would prepare the people's hearts to make a straight path for the savior to restore life and sight. Repentance faces us toward "The Light of the World".
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring (light rising) from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace."
— Luke 1:76-79
The "Light of the World" is drawing and calling each one of us to come out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. He is calling us all to come and be cleansed by the "Living Water" and to arise and be resurrected from death, dying, and decay. That we might leave all of the hurt pain and ugliness behind.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.
— Psalm 36:7-9
The entire Gospel story is told in the events celebrated by a feast that also uses imagery from a cycle in the earth. We are surrounded by the truth and the light. Everything around us is declaring the message of salvation. He really wants us to get it because He really wants to live with us forever and ever and ever happily ever after!!
We will conclude this series with the Hebrew word pictograph for light. The Hebrew word for light is "or" and it is spelled with an aleph, vav, and a resh.
Aleph is a picture of an ox representing something that is strong and leading. As we have seen in this lesson. Light is very strong and powerful. It is leading in the sense that it draws us, water, and living things to itself and calls all upward.
Aleph being the first letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet also represents first things. And we know from our studies that light was first in creation.
Aleph is also representative of God the Father, and this can show us that light in us comes from being connected to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Vav is a picture of a nail or stake and illustrates connecting things. It was the nail in a sure place, the Lord Jesus Himself who was nailed to the cross that connected us with God the Father, our heavenly source.
Resh is a picture of a person, and or a person's head and can be representative of a high person. So we see that the light (highest person of Jesus Christ), is powerfully leading us and enabling us to connect with and see The Father. The revelation of who He is brought to the forefront of our comprehension.
Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle.
— Psalm 43:3
This year's season and celebration of Tabernacles is now over but the reflections and purposes of this feast can live on year-round in our awareness and relations with God.
He is the "Living Water" and the "Light".
"O may the Holy Spirit enable us to keep the beacon-fire blazing, to warn you of the rocks, shoals, and quicksands, which surround you, and may we ever guide you to Jesus"
© 2010 Tamarajo