The Feast of Tabernacles – What is it?
The Feast of Tabernacles (also called Feast of Booths or Sukkot in Hebrew) was the seventh and final feast commanded in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament). In addition, it served as the third of three yearly occasions when all Jewish men were to appear before the Lord to worship (Deuteronomy 16:16). It was mentioned frequently in Scripture and is also significant due to the Jewish temple being dedicated during this time (1 Kings 8:2).
Interestingly, the Feast of Tabernacles was also described as a key time of revival when the returning Israelites came to rebuild the temple during the time of Ezra. In the New Testament, Jesus preached during this same feast in Jerusalem, giving His famous teaching, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" (John 7:37-38).
When did the Feast of Tabernacles take place? It was commemorated on Tishri 15 on the Hebrew calendar, the seventh month, which takes place between late September and early October on Western calendars. It began just five days after the Day of Atonement, shortly after the completion of the fall harvest period. The time marked a celebration of the harvest as well as a remembrance of God's provision during Israel's 40 years in the wilderness living in tents (or tabernacles) .
This feast was also important for another reason—the tithe. Thousands of travelers attended the feast for eight days each year, bringing a tenth of their harvest for worship.
How was the Feast of Tabernacles structured? In Leviticus 23, the details are described as a feast that takes place on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, lasting for seven days. It was also marked by a holy day or Sabbath on which no work could occur. Each day included offerings to the Lord, with the eighth day marking another holy day without work. During this time, those celebrating the feast would do so while living in tents made from tree branches.
It is also likely that the Gospel John began by making reference to the Feast of Tabernacles when he wrote that Jesus came and dwelt (or "tabernacled") among us: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
As a result of Christ's coming to earth to dwell among us, we are able to enter the Lord's rest through faith in Jesus. The law has been fulfilled in Christ and made complete in Him, offering us the opportunity to have God's Spirit dwell within us each day.
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