booths, etrog, fifteenth day of the seventh month, God, lulav, pilgrimage festival, sukkah, Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles
The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’S Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to the LORD by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.(” ‘These are the LORD’S appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to the LORD by fire-the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’S Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.)
” ‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'” Leviticus 23:33-43
Sukkoth is a pilgrimage festival; it is one of three festivals that were celebrated until 70 A.D. by mass pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Sukkoth is also a harvest festival. It is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha’Asif, the Festival of the Ingathering (harvesting). Thirdly, we remember the Exodus from Egypt on Sukkoth. The holiday commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. It is the final festival of the fall cycle of biblical festivals. The day following the seven day celebration of The Feast of Tabernacles, is a special Sabbath – a closing assembly.
Arbat Haminim is Hebrew for the “four species.” They are comprised of the etrog (a citrus fruit native to Israel), lulav (palm branch), hadas (myrtle branch), and arava (willow branch). God commanded the Israelites to take these four plants and use them to “rejoice before the LORD” during the seven days of the feast of Tabernacles. The etrog is held separately. The three branches are bound together and referred to collectively as the lulav. With these four species in hand, Jews today recite a blessing and wave the species in six directions (east, south, west, and north, up and down) to symbolize that God is everywhere. The four species are also held during the Hallel prayer.
Each day during Sukkoth, there are special processions in synagogue around the bimah where the Torah is read. Congregants hold the etrog and lulav during these processions. These processions commemorate similar processions around the altar of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. The processions are called hoshanas because during the procession Jews recite a prayer with the refrain “hoshana” (please save us).
Jews recognize that waving the four species in six directions symbolize the omnipresence of God. Yet, because of spiritual blindness, they don’t recognize these species as symbolic of the triune nature of God. Three of the four species are of the same nature – green, leafy, tree branches. The palm, myrtle and willow branches are interwoven to form the lulav. Every adult male Jew in the world celebrates this festival recognizing the omnipresence of God by waving the etrog (the one) and the lulav (the three), yet fails to recognize that the one true God is comprised of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Twenty centuries ago, Jews laid palm fronds at the feet of Jesus crying out “hosanna” – save us! Yet, that generation rejected God’s Son during the first of the seven Festivals of the LORD. At the First Advent, Jesus came as a suffering servant. The Jews were anticipating a conquering king and instead were offered a slaughtered Lamb. At the Second Coming, Jesus will indeed come as a conquering king – The King of kings and the Lord of lords. God will tabernacle with men. Jesus will establish his kingdom on earth and rule from Zion. The last of the Festivals of the LORD – Sukkoth – is a type of the Millennial Kingdom.
The three pilgrimage festivals, when all adult males were commanded to offer up sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem, were the Passover, The Feast of Weeks and The Feast of Tabernacles. The Passover is a picture of the bride price – Jesus purchased men for God with his atoning blood. Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) is a type of the bride gift – the promised gift of the Holy Spirit to the bride (the church). The Feast of Tabernacles is a picture of the wedding feast – the booth (sukkah) is decorated like the wedding canopy (the chuppah).
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.” John 7:37-38
On the eighth and final day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the high priest of Israel, in a great processional made up of many priests and many thousands of worshippers, descended from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Siloam. A silver pitcher was filled with water, and the great procession proceeded back up to the Temple Mount via a different route. In Israel, the rains normally stop in March, and there is no rain for nearly seven months. In recognition of the need for God to provide the “early” or “former” rains in October or November, the high priest poured the water upon the altar. This ceremony was intended to invoke God’s blessing on the nation by providing life-giving water. Without the early rains over the winter, there would be no spring crop. The Feast of Tabernacles is a joyous celebration of God’s provision and the final harvest of the year. This final ceremony is a plea for God’s favor (grace) for the coming year.
After the water was poured out upon the altar, and in the sight and hearing of tens of thousands of onlookers, Jesus made his proclamation – “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.” Living water is water that wells up to eternal life.
Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.
If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. Zechariah 14:16-19
He is the First and the Last – the Alpha and the Omega. Both the first and last festival – the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles – will be celebrated during the Millennium.
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.
I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
During the Millennium, at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11