The Christian and Feast of the Tabernacles
Feast of the Tabernacles
Feast of the tabernacles (sometimes called Festival of Booths or Sukkot) is a Jewish holiday that begins five days after Yom Kippur and lasts seven days. It is a very festive time where Jewish people build little booths outside and spend a large portion of their time in them. They eat their meals, read, visit, and sometimes even sleep outdoors in these little makeshift temporary dwelling places. It is a time of celebration and contemplation. They look back to the forty years spent in the wilderness with Moses and celebrate the way God provided for them. They remember the manna from heaven, the way their ancestors clothes never wore out, and the way God Himself dwelt with them as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud of smoke by day. This holiday was established a very long time ago by God through Moses.
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. 40 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. 41 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. 42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 43 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)
Besides looking back on what God did for them, the Jewish people spend the time looking forward to the day when their Messiah comes and they at last have peace. They long for the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Zechariah.
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came 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
Zechariah 14:16 (KJV)
The Christian's Oportunity
We, as Christians, know that the Messiah has already come once and He is going to return. We don't have to celebrate the Jewish holidays anymore than we have to eat a Kosher diet. The council at Jerusalem in the first century decided not to put a lot of restrictions on the Gentile converts.
Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Acts 15:19-20 (KJV)
While I am grateful that the early church leaders didn't put the extra stress on their new members, as the centuries went on, Gentile Christians outnumbered Jewish Christians by larger and larger ratios. More and more Gentile traditions entered the church and fewer and fewer Jewish traditions remained. While it is wonderful that Christianity has been spread throughout the world, the loss of it's Jewish roots have put more and more space between the Church and Israel. This isn't a good thing. God was very serious when He said that He would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel; yet, too often, Christians either don't acknowledge Israel at all or become almost antisemitic in their thinking. It is impossible to share Jesus with the Jewish people if we don't have a love for them, and we can't love them properly if we don't understand them.
Honestly, we miss a large part of ourselves by not learning about our Jewish roots. When we were saved, we were adopted into Jesus' family and Jesus was Jewish. Learning about and making feeble attempts to celebrate Jewish holidays is a great way to connect with those Jewish roots. And, the Feast of the Tabernacles is a very easy holiday to celebrate.
There are many resources on the web that explain the holiday. Booth building can seem a little intimidating, but it is also fun. The key is to not get too caught up in getting everything absolutely perfect. Some families simply put up a tent in the yard to celebrate. Our first year, we used a PVC pipe frame, some string, several shower curtains, and markers. The kids covered the shower curtains with drawings and Bible verses about the feast and about Jesus, and we hung them as walls. It didn't survive the week, but our family learned so much during that concentrated, deliberate time of study. We also learned how to truly pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It was actually modeled by Jesus Himself, "Thy kingdom come." When Jesus establishes His earthly kingdom, Jerusalem will finally find peace and so will the Church.