The Feast of Tabernacles is a week long autumn harvest festival. It is also known as: The Feast of Ingathering, The Feast of Booths, Sukkoth, Succoth, or Sukkot (pronounced as “Sue-coat”). In Biblical times this feast was the final and most important holiday of the year. Some Bible scholars believe The Feast of Tabernacles points to the millennium reign of Jesus Christ
Leviticus 23:39-43 NKJV
“Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
The word Sukkoth means booths, and refers to the temporary dwelling that the Jewish people were commanded to live in during this holiday, just as the Jewish people did in the wilderness after they left Egypt. This holiday commemorates the desert wanderings of the Jewish people on their way to the Promised Land. The people were caused to wander about through disobedience, but God was still with them. God still protected them and provided for them. The people were commanded to build temporary dwellings (tabernacles or booths) each year to live in during Sukkot, so that they could remember God’s presence and His faithfulness as a provider and protector. Today many Jewish people still build a sukkot for the festival. Almost any building material will do for the sides as long as they are not of a permanent nature. The top is loosely covered with branches so that you can still see the stars through parts of it. They are decorated with fruit, tinsel, paper chains, streamers and pictures of Bible stories. Meals are eaten in the sukkot, accompanied by singing and rejoicing. Some families sleep in their sukkot. It is a place to discuss and meditate on God’s goodness. God has redeemed us from a life of bondage to sin and brought us into His freedom in the Kingdom of God.
When the Israelites were wanderers in the desert they all lived in tents. It did not matter if you were rich or poor. During sukkot all men are equal before God and one another. Each one sits in his flimsy sukkah and considers God, not his own status. The Feast of Tabernacles gives a person an opportunity to reflect on God’s great love and majesty, and how they treat others. We too are flimsy tabernacles that should reflect God’s majesty.
CITRON AND LULAV
Sukkot is a season of joy and rejoicing. The men carry a citron and a lulav to the synagogue to wave as they rejoice before the Lord. The lulav has three branches tied together ( a palm, a willow, and a myrtle branch), and the citron is a citrus fruit that smells like a lemon. The lulav and the citron point to how our life should be spiritually.
The people took great care in picking out the citron and the items for the lulav. They were careful with what they offered to God. We too should be careful with the quality of the fruit that we are offering to God.
Palm – We should not be like the palm. It can only bears fruit (deeds / works). It is not fragrant (spiritual blessings). These people live by the letter of the law but they have no love or compassion, for themselves or others.
Myrtle – We should not be like the myrtle. It is only fragrant, but does not bear fruit. These people are sweet people, but their lives do not produce any real lasting fruit.
Willow – We should not be like the willow. It does not produce fruit or fragrance. These people are blown around by every wind of doctrine and never really know where they are spiritually.
Citron – We should be like the citron. It produces fruit and fragrance. These are God’s steadfast believers who live a balanced life in wisdom before God and man.
THIS IS NOT OUR HOME
You can learn many lessons from the sukkah. Five important lessons are:
(1) We are strangers in this land.
1 Peter 2:11 NKJV
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul”
Inside of our houses it is easy to begin to feel permanent and self-sufficient and lose sight of our brief time on the earth. The sukkah also speaks of our frailty while we are here–we are but flesh. One day that will all change. Peter referred to our earthly bodies as tents. We live for only a short while and we must use every opportunity to encourage others toward Jesus Christ and toward His heavenly kingdom.
2 Peter 1:12-14 NKJV
“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me”
(2) This world is not our permanent home – it is only temporary.
As people in a land temporary, we must not hold on to things too tightly. Things control and manipulate us. Things can become our gods ( idols) when we begin to hold on to them too tightly. When things become your god, you turn away from the only true and living God.
Our life here is short, but our hope is not in this world. God has provided a better place for the believers.
John 14:2-3 NKJV
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also”
(3) God provides for our needs.
God gave the Feast of Tabernacle as a reminder to the people of who He is. We need to seek God’s kingdom, not earthly comfort. As we seek first the kingdom of God, our material needs are provided for by the Lord.
Luke 12:31 NKJV
“But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you”
(4) We must be able to move when God moves.
We should not get so involved with things of the world that it prevents us from moving when God tells us to. The tabernacle (sukkah) is a flimsy structure and can be taken down and put up in a very short period of time. It is sensitive to the wind, just as we are to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
(5) We must not close God out.
The sukkah is open to the heavens–it cannot be closed off. We too are to be open to God. We should never close God out of our lives.
Amos 9:11 NKJV
“On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down. And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins; and rebuild it as in the days of old”
The Tabernacle of David was a flimsy tent where glorious worship and fellowship with God took place. It may have been fragile and unsightly, but it enabled the Israelites to look out the door and see the glory of the Lord hovering over them. Throughout Christian history, many great revivals were held in tents and brush arbors closely resembling the sukkah (tabernacle).
When the sukkah is first put up it is fresh and green. As the days of the Feast of Tabernacles progresses, the leaves begin to dry. Soon they are falling as the wind blows.
Isaiah 64:6 NKJV
“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away”
During this feast the people were to bring a sacrifice each day. Preparing the sacrifices was costly and time-consuming. It required much commitment to God. It required faith and obedience. Without faith and obedience the work of Jesus Christ on the cross is of no avail. It is not enough to know the facts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We must have a personal relationship with Him.
James 2:17 NKJV
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead”
We must personally act upon it by faith, then we will have the promised salvation. We have to receive it and live it.
Romans 12:1 NKJV
“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”
Each of us has much that we can give to the Lord:
1. We can give our lives to Him in service.
2. We can use what God gives us (income, food, clothing, shelter) for use in His service.
3. We can use our talents for God’s service.
4. We can share the message of God’s love and salvation with others.
5. We can allow the fruit of the Spirit to overflow on others.
Sukkot is a time to consider that we are God’s creation. We are to gather up our personal, spiritual fruits of faith and celebrate by giving ourselves in God’s service. The message of Sukkot is total commitment to the Lord and His service.
THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST
At the end of the Great Tribulation Jesus will return to earth (Second Coming Of Christ). Jesus’ feet will stand on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. He will defeat the antichrist and throw Satan into a bottomless pit for 1000 years. Jesus will reign over the earth for 1000 years (millennial reign).
“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two…”
When the millennial reign is over, Satan will again be loosed on earth for a short period of time. He will gather an army to fight against Jesus. Jesus will defeat Satan and his army. The earth will be destroyed by fire and sinners will be judged (The Great White Throne Judgment). Those who died as sinners will be resurrected (removed from Hell / Hades), to stand before God to be judged for what they did (or did not do) while they were here on earth. Every person whose name is not found in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is described several times in the Bible. It is an eternal fire. It is a fire that never goes out. It is black and dark . There will be constant torment with no end – it will NEVER stop.
Revelation 20:11-15 NKJV
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was no place found for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
After the final judgment, God promised a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus will give His millennial kingdom to God the Father, the Supreme Ruler. All Christians will live with God forever in a beautiful new universe. God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death, sickness or pain. The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, will come down from heaven and will shine with the glory of the Lord. The city will be made of gold and will be decorated with precious jewels.
Down the middle of the city will flow the river of life, and on each side of the river will grow trees of life. The throne of God will be in the city, and people will worship God forever and ever. Heaven will be far better than we can imagine. As we draw close to God here on earth, we can experience the same wonderful presence of God that we will experience when we stand before His throne.
1 Corinthians 15:25 NKJV
“Then the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.”
Revelation 21:1-2 NKJV
“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.”