A FESTIVAL FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD…God has appointed this coming week as one of His special times for the revelation and ministry of Jesus Christ. Known as “feasts” or “festivals” at harvest times, the Festival of Tabernacles begins at sunset under a full harvest moon September 21st and ends at sunset September 29th with an 8th day celebrating the future culmination of all God's Holy Festivals when Jesus rules as King!
Appointed 3500 years ago, this final festival has always been known as the time when God will dwell with His people. “Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast…You shall hold a festival for the LORD your God seven days, in the place that the LORD will choose; for the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.” Deut. 16:13-15.
Leviticus 23 tells us more about this special week that God appointed just after the fall harvest. The Festival of Tabernacles, also called "Sukkot" in Hebrew, got its name from the fact that all Israel was to live in temporary structures as they did when God led them during their 40 years of "camping out" in the wilderness. Palm branches were also prominently used for temporary thatched roofs and waved during joyful worship. An 8th day was also to be celebrated as a Holy Convocation unto the Lord, looking forward to the final fulfillment of ALL His appointed times, which we Christians today recognize as King Jesus!
The Festival of Tabernacles was a unique opportunity for God's people to come together during 7 joyous nights and thank Him for His many incredible blessings. His Shekinah Glory literally dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant, guiding, and directing the Israelites during their long Exodus journey. By the time of Jesus, three 75-foot menorahs were lit in the Temple, which reminded the people of God's Shekinah Glory leading them through the desert.
Not only did God fed them daily for 40 years with manna from heaven, He also provided enough water from a single rock to satiate millions of people. We do not have to look far in the New Testament to see who was actually being introduced to mankind through this symbolism. In John 30, 32-35, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world… I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”
These appointed Festival Days also paint a picture of the Lord’s completion and rest given in Genesis 2:2. “And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” For 3500 years, it has been celebrated with a full week of dancing, singing, and feasting. It is also entirely possible that the first American Thanksgiving was based on this very festival, since the early Puritans were students of the Bible and observed God’s ancient, appointed Festival Days.
Many phenomenal physical appointments have taken place during the Festival of Tabernacles. When Solomon first brought the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle furnishings into the Temple at Jerusalem, it was on God's appointed Day of Tabernacles, placed on His calendar 500 years before. At that time, the grand Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem became the literal, living Tabernacle, or dwelling place of God Almighty when the Shekinah Glory of the Lord descended from heaven, lit the fire on the altar, and literally filled the Holy of Holies. 2 Chronicles 7:1-3.
In fact, there are growing numbers of Christians who are convinced that Jesus was actually born and came to "tabernacle" with mankind as a babe laid in a tabernacle structure during the annual Tabernacles Festival itself! mankind as a babe laid in a tabernacle structure during the annual Tabernacles Festival itself! Rome always took advantage of the customs of their occupied territories to take a census of the people. Heads of Jewish families were required to go to Jerusalem 3 times a year to celebrate God's major festival days: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Tabernacles is the only one that occurs in the fall. Add that to the imagery of John 1:14: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” It is no coincidence that the phrase “made His dwelling” or “skenoo”, is derived from the word “tabernacle”, and could also be interpreted as “to have one’s tabernacle”.
Jesus celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles a few short months before his death. On the last day, after the priest filled a water pitcher from the Pool of Siloam and carried it back to the Temple and poured the water at the altar, symbolizing the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in the days of Messiah, Jesus stood and said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” John 6:37-39.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey before His crucifixion, the people, influenced by 1500 years of celebrating Tabernacles, waved palm branches, and shouted "Hosanna" from the same Messianic Psalm quoted every year during the Festival of Tabernacles: Psalm 118:25. And the picture of Tabernacles worship will be repeated when the redeemed saints gather together around the throne of God Almighty, palm branches in hand, singing “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
The future physical fulfillment of the Festival of Tabernacles will culminate when ALL nations on Planet Earth will come together in peace to worship Jesus Christ as Lord! "The Lord will be King over the whole earth. On that day, there will be one Lord and His name the only name…Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles." Zechariah 14:9,16.
Finally, in Revelation 21:3, John the Revelator adds the crowning touch to this glorious festival appointed by God Almighty for all humanity. “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.’”
“YOU SHALL HOLD A FESTIVAL FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD…”