I love talking to people about the Feasts of Tabernacles, because more often than not the deer-in-the-headlights look takes over their face. Usually, “What is that? I’ve never heard of the Feasts of Tabernacles before.” In fact, you might have the same look and be thinking the same words right now. But don’t stop reading, for there are new insights to be learned.
WHAT IS THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES?
The Feast of Tabernacles is the last and greatest Feast given to God’s chosen people by God Himself. There are seven feasts, but this one seems to take the cake, as it’s definitely the most joyous festival of the year. The Feast of Tabernacles is a week-long celebration filled with ceremonies, singing, and dancing taking place both day and night. Now a seven day party is one thing, but what makes this feast unique is the fact that God directed His people to “live in booths for seven days,” (Lev. 23:42).
Yes, booths, or makeshift huts. These temporary shelters would be set up outside homes and buildings all throughout Jerusalem. Can you imagine what the city must have looked like with thousands of booths crammed into every square inch of available land? I’ve seen packed campgrounds, but something tells me Jerusalem during the Feast would have made for some amazing photographs.
These booths, or sukkah, as they are called in Hebrew, were not stable or long-lasting but rather weak and vulnerable. Yet through these temporary residences God spoke a message to His people. He wanted them to remember the years Israel painted the desert floor with booths, wandering from place to place taking their temporary dwellings with them. Like the booths, Israel was weak and vulnerable, susceptible to attack from something or someone stronger. But the Lord was their security guard, protecting them, providing for them and strengthening them. The Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Booths as it is known by some–is God’s great reminder of His provision and protection.
The booths symbolized the people’s dependence on the Lord and served as a visual reminder of all God had done for them.
As believers today we too live in temporary dwellings. You see, this world is our temporary, makeshift home. Paul tells us in Ephesians “our citizenship is in heaven,” and Peter calls us “foreigners and exiles.” This place in which we currently live, is weak, vulnerable and susceptible to attack. But we too have a Security Guard who protects us, provides for us, and strengthens us in the midst of it all, and one day we will move out of this temporary home to inhabit a place of unimaginable beauty where we will live forever with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
THE CELEBRATION: FEAST OF TABERNACLES, JESUS AND US
There is still so much more we should know. The celebration took place day and night. Two celebrations specific to the celebration were, The Water-Libation Ceremony held in the morning, and the The Temple-Lighting Ceremony which occurred at night.
The Water-Libation ceremony involved the high priest gathering water from the Pool of Siloam, and, after leading a procession of people back to the Temple, he would pour the water into a basin on the altar. All the while, the air would be filled with the trumpet blasts, people singing and worshiping, praising God in advance for the anticipated rain. The days leading up to the Feast of Tabernacles would have been hot and dry, and rain was needed with the changing seasons. No rain meant no crops. This ceremony was the people’s way of praising God in advance for providing for their needs.
Now insert Jesus. John 7 is the only place we see the Feast of Tabernacles mentioned in relation of the life of Jesus.
Now on the last day, the great day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” John 7:37-38 (NASB).
In the middle of a great crowd gathered to celebrate the blessing of water, Jesus announces the people need to look no further because it is He who provides water that will never run dry. This incensed the Pharisees and their anger burned. But why? Why would this statement from Jesus cause such a stir?
You see, songs of praise filled the air, some of those worship songs originated from the writings of Isaiah, Isaiah 12 to be exact.
“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is mystrength and my defense; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
It was following the singing and shouting of these prophetic words of praise and adoration, Jesus had the audacity to stand and say, “By the way, I Am the Living Water and the Holy One is among you.” No wonder the religious leaders of the day desperately wanted Jesus silenced.
But as faith followers of Jesus, we have been given Living Water which satisfies all our needs. When we drink of Him, our lives will never be the same.
As the Feast of Tabernacles continued into the darkness of night, the spectacle of celebration became even more amazing. Four massive menorahs burned aglow with enough light to illuminate the entire city. The energy was electric, the joy immense and the beauty unmatched. It was a celebration no one wanted to end.
Jesus had already enraged the Pharisees once, but He was about to do it again. John 8 tells us “At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts…When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,’” (John 8:2, 12 NIV). Another bold claim passing from the lips of Jesus as He was capitalizing on the images held in their minds of the immense light they had just experienced. Were the people thinking once again of the prophetic words of Isaiah?
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isa. 9:22).
Because of Jesus, we no longer walk in darkness, but instead, walk in the Light. Not only is Jesus the Light of the World, but as His light shines in us, we too can be a light to the world.
Trish Johnson and her husband, Mike, have been married for 20 years and enjoy the constant noise of a house full of four amazing teenagers.
Trish and her family call Crystal Lake, IL home where she works in ministry as a Bible Teacher, Speaker and Author. Her passion is expounding on the details and symbolism found in God’s Word. She teaches their meanings and helps her audience to apply them to modern life lessons.
According to Trish, nothing excites her more than teaching, speaking and sharing the stories, lessons and deeper meanings found in Scripture. She loves discovering God in the details of His Word and teaching others how to find Him in the “little things.” Find out more about Trish at trishspeaks.com.
Find out more about the feasts in Tricia and Misty’s Book “Seven: A Modern Day Look at the Feasts of the Lord.”
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