The Feast of Tabernacles, Waterfalls, and Eternal Life
Some years ago my husband and I took a vacation to Gooseberry Falls State Park north of Duluth Minnesota to camp and drive the North Shore of Lake Superior. Much to my surprise the entire North Shore was full of waterfalls. After seeing so many of them I wondered if there was a spiritual lesson to be learned by the observation.
I just so happened to be studying the Feasts of the Lord. At that particular time, it was the Feast of Trumpets and approaching Yom Kippur. The Feast of Tabernacles was soon to follow. I decided to zero in on the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Tabernacles was an observance that celebrated God's miraculous provision for the children of Israel in the wilderness after being delivered from bondage in Egypt. They lived in tents and were entirely dependent upon God for their provisions. It also commemorates God's presence with them throughout this wilderness (picture of life in this world) journey to the promised land (picture of an eternal destiny) as He tabernacled (tented) among them.
The Ceremonial Pouring of Water
There was a ritual in the ceremony that the biblical priests performed during the Feast of Tabernacles that illustrated God's eternal life flowing down from heaven above much like a river to the sea. The priests would go to the "Pool of Siloam" and get pitchers of water and would carry them up to the temple. They would, then, pour the water into a silver funnel that stood high above the altar and flowed down to the pool.
In Biblical terms water that is flowing is considered living water. Waterfalls in and of themselves are a great illustration of waters from above flowing down to nourish and give life wherever it flows.
Jesus, who came down from heaven, is seen observing the "Feast of Tabernacles" in the Gospel of John.
Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand . . . On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified
— John 7:2,38-39
Water—Symbol of Life
Jesus was claiming to be the source of living water that had come down from heaven, and from that source would flow the Holy Spirit filling all in all.
He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.
— Ephesians 4:10
Just as a river flows to the lowest place and begins to fill it. So the heart of man, deep as an endless abyss and insatiable, is here invited to come to the source to drink and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
— Romans 5:5
Why is water used as a metaphor in this invitation? Because He needs us to know that water, is an absolutely essential element to life. Our bodies consist of approximately 75% water and it is the same ratio of water for the Earth. Water is vital, a “can't live without it” ingredient, to our existence. A person can go well over a month without food but can only live about a week without water. Just as we need water so do we need Jesus our Savior and His Holy Spirit dwelling in us to survive in any real spiritual or eternal capacity. Our spirits can only be made alive and sustained by Him. He is telling us He is the Source and we need Him as desperately as we need water.
As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
— Psalm 42: 1-2
Rivers of water in scripture are generally associated with peace, comfort, provision, refreshment, nourishment, and healing. Things tend to flourish along the banks of a river even if surrounded by desert landscapes. This is who He is telling us He is!
John gives us a glimpse of this in the book of Revelation in reference to this theme of Living water, and Tabernacles, imaging God's dwelling in us and with us, in relation to an eternal future.
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
— Revelation 21
. . . And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
— Revelation 22
We see from this account how the Living Waters are flowing into the future of eternity. Living Water is for an eternal existence.
The One Who Was and Is And Is To Come
It is notable that a river is perpetual and continuous and depicts eternity. The Hebrew word for river is “nahar” and its pictograph revelation confirms this concept.
Its first letter is a "nun".
"Nun" is represented by a picture of a seed and it is symbolic of something that emerges yet stays connected to the source It depicts continuance, perpetuity, and eternity in regards to life.
The final two letters make the word "har", and is spelled with a "hey" and a "resh" which is the Hebrew word for mountain or the highest place. We see "nahar" is a picture of something continual, perpetual, and eternal that is flowing down from the very highest place and emerging from the throne of God while staying connected to its eternal source.
The thread connected to this larger tapestry actually begins in Genesis.
The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden,
— Genesis 2:8-10
It is evident that the Feast of Tabernacles is connecting us with past present and future realities that are consistent with the message we see flowing throughout the entire Bible. God's desire is for us to presently tabernacle with Him by believing in the salvation of Jesus our source of life, through the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us, in a relationship that carries over into eternity.
And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth
— John 1:14
He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Everything begins with Him and everything ends with Him.
All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
— Colossians 1:16-18
We see the river that was "In the Beginning" that ran through the garden from Eden, and the tree of life flourishing along its banks. We see that He is the one who is, the one who was, and He is the one who is to come. And He wishes to dwell or tabernacle inside of us by His Holy Spirit. The pure and living water that comes down from heaven and flows directly from His throne. God takes man full circle from the garden to the new earth and new heaven to live forever in eternal joy with the one who loved him all along.
When the water reaches its lowest point it is not the end of the story or the process. The water is evaporated and illustrates for us the resurrection. Just as Jesus, the source from heaven, poured out his life (Spirit), descended and flowed down into the deepest darkest corners of this planet and the heart of man, he also was resurrected back to His heavenly home. Just like the droplets of water that rise in the sky and form a cloud later to dispense the living water once again to the earth is also a picture of the Holy Spirit now being poured out upon all flesh.
In the evaporation process, water is distilled. The impurities are left behind. When we come to Jesus our savior and our source we are resurrected to a new life from a dead one. There is more to death than ceasing to exist. death is corruption, a disintegration, it is perpetually moving backward, deconstructing, and decomposing.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
— 1 Corinthians 15:42-43
We are clearly seeing a distinct picture in this Feast and through the processes of creation that everything declares who He is and is testifying of His Will to reveal Himself to us and dwell with us once again.
A quote from Jean Karau (Bible Study teacher of 20 years): "from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible points to Calvary! Salvation is "The Message!"
His plan is and always has been and always will be to bring us back to that position we once had in the garden where His life was in us and He dwelt with us. A place where His love and goodness were not a question. They were a matter of fact. A place where the rivers of living water will fill and satisfy every part of us.
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
— Ephesians 3:17-19
Personal Application—Woman at the Well
Let's look at one more story where Jesus declares Himself to be the “Living Water” in the story of the “Woman at the Well”. The Samaritan woman in this narrative was most likely living a worldly life and obviously disconnected from a relationship with the Source of Life. She was getting her needs met with the tangible things she could feel and see in the natural world which was obviously not satisfying. She was drinking from the wells of relationships, and the feelings she could try to produce by them, hoping they might provide her with a drop of what she was really looking for.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
— John 4:7-15
There is so much more to life than what we can see feel taste or touch with our physical senses. This woman discovered that there was so much more to her thirst than physical water. The desperation inside of her went much deeper than the well she was physically drawing from. “The well is deep and you have nothing to draw with,” she tells Jesus. She wondered as we do at times, what could He possibly have that would satisfy her? He was showing her that the things she was partaking of would never quench her insatiable thirst. If we would only know who He is “The Source” we would ask Him to give us the living water.
I think we are all much like this woman, on a quest to quench our thirst in our own ways and we have become like ones traversing a desert, disillusioned by mirages of provisions that appear as if they have the water we are so desperately longing for. But instead, we have become deceived, seriously disappointed, and ultimately left feeling empty by them.
“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.
— Jeremiah 2:13
His cry is “Come to me” “Come to me” “Come to me” There is no other "Source"
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you— The sure mercies of David.
— Isaiah 55:1-2
We also see an underground water source in John chapter four. Fountains come from underground water sources. How do we get this Living Water? First of all through the Saving work of Jesus and secondly by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
"He who believes in Me (Faith in Jesus), as the Scripture has said, out of his heart (underground source) will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit..."
— John 7:37-39
Fun Facts—Bonus Insight
A few fun facts about Lake Superior that go along with our subject; it is the largest freshwater lake in the world. It covers 31,829 square miles, and is 483 feet deep on average, with the deepest point of 1,332 feet. It is 350 miles long and contains 3 quadrillion gallons of water. The other four Great Lakes plus an extra three Lake Eries could fit into Lake Superior. The water in Lake Superior could flood the United States to a level of a foot deep.2
God is showing us that He is a far Superior source of fresh life-giving water. He is better than anything we could come up with to satisfy. All other sources are temporary, insufficient and far inferior. Our God is El Shaddai. He is the All-Sufficient God. The God who is enough. He is the largest and most superior source of provision in the universe.
A note from the November 2009 newsletter from "Jewish Jewels" about the name El Shaddai, it is the name of God signifying that He is the source of all blessings, Live-giver, and one who pours forth life.
For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.
— Habakkuk 2:14
One a final note, on this subject; one evening My husband and I went up to the Feast of Tabernacles service observed at a Messianic congregation in St. Paul Minnesota. On our way home, we passed a sign that read "Hidden falls." On the way up I just so happened to be reading an article by "Jewish Jewels" about the "Feast of Tabernacles" and the title was “Hide and Seek” it was about being hidden in God's tabernacle, in His presence. Isn't it a comforting thought that we can hide in Him and tabernacle in His secret place.
As I pondered these things I realized that I have been trying to hide myself all of my life. I can remember being only four and looking for a secret place where no one knew where I was. It felt safe, peaceful, and quiet. It was a place that I had to seek after. I believe what He was showing me was that. Jesus our “Eternal Source” of “Living Waters” our safe hiding place must be sought after.
One thing I have desired of the LORD,That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion (tabernacle); In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
— Psalm 27:4-5
Seeking exhibits our faith because, according to Hebrews 11:6, "without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him". God can do nothing for us apart from faith. It is how His Kingdom functions. I won't seek after something I don't believe. He asks us to seek to activate our faith which will enable us to see the things that are not seen in this natural realm.
Jesus is "The Source," "The Hidden Falls," the "Living Water" The one who came down from heaven filling all in all and quenches the thirst of all who would come to Him. He is far superior to anything else we could ask or think. His Spirit is pouring forth from the throne as we speak calling all to come to the living waters and be healed, cleansed, and be refreshed. May we seek Him with our whole hearts.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
— Psalm 46:4
Credits and Sources
Scriptures all taken from the King James Version of the Bible. all Bold type or italics or parentheses are mine.
(2) lake Superior info obtained by an article submitted by Al Batt in the Albert Lea Tribune Saturday, October 10, 2009.
All scripture references are taken from the New King James Version all parenthesis, or bold
© 2010 Tamarajo