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God's Salvation Plan in the Biblical Feast Days

 - Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot/Booths, also called the Feast of Ingathering)
by Bill Wong

 




6.  Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot/Booths, also called the Feast of Ingathering)

 

The 15th - 21st  days of the seventh month:

 

Leviticus 23:33-36, 39-43

Exodus 23:16

Exodus 34:22

Deuteronomy 16:13-17; 31:9-13 

Isaiah 4:2-6

Ezekiel 45:25

Hosea 12:9

Zechariah 14:1-9

John 7:2-10

 

 

NOTE:  Full moons occur in the middle of a month and the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles on the 15th day of the seventh month Tishri there is a full moon (just like on Passover into the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the 14th to 15th days of the first month Abib, there was also a full moon).  This full moon follows the new moon just 14 days earlier that marked the 1st day of Tishri, the Feast of Trumpets.  As prescribed by the Almighty, the sun and the moon are to be signs and markers for God’s appointed times (seasons):

Genesis 1:                                                                                                                                                

14   Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;   (NKJV)

 

 

 

Tanakh -

 

Observed as a reminder when God lived among His people in the wilderness for 40 years.  Like the Day of Atonement's fasting, living in booths (Hebrew 'sukkot', plural for 'sukkah', Strong's #5521 means a booth, tabernacle, tent, canopy, temporary shelter) serves to remind us and humble us before God - that everything is dependent on God who is to be our focus.  Sukkot (tabernacles) convey a shelter or covering that is temporary in nature.  These booths are temporary and roughly put together and hence unstable and weak.  We are reminded that with God's presence we are protected and He provides us with everything we need.   The tabernacles are temporary as Israel had to move periodically during this time before they entered the Promised Land.  Joshua (meaning: Yah saves/Yah is deliverer --- Yah is the shortened form of God's name YHWH) led Israel to the Promised Land after Moses' death.  This feast points to God dwelling with His people and is a joyous celebration.  The priests performed a special water ceremony in the temple each of the 7 days, symbolizing God's salvation (Isaiah 12:1-4) as people recited Isaiah 12:3 and Psalms 113-118. 

 

 

B'rit Hadashah (NT) -

 

This feast is to be an abundantly joyous feast because it symbolizes the fulfillment of God's salvational promise with the ingathering of all the harvest and His dwelling among us again.  There are several layers of meaning. 

 

Firstly, the Word and Son of God, the Messiah came in a tabernacle of flesh and tabernacled among His people when He first came.

 

Secondly, Israel will return to the Promised Land, and all who are in Christ will dwell there as well.  Please note that Jesus' Hebrew name is Yahusha/Yahushua (or Yeshua) from which Joshua derives, so in both cases the symbolism tells us it is YHWH (God) who leads His people into the Promised Land.  God will once again dwell among His people as His son Jesus returns to Jerusalem and establishes His Father's Kingdom.  Our life-giving water and salvation is with us.

 

Thirdly, those in Christ at His return will receive new bodies (tabernacles, tents) and they will rule with Christ as kings and priests for 1000 years: the millennial Kingdom of God. 


Fourthly, the Fall and final harvest is complete as the Almighty God and His only-begotten Son will dwell among all who are written in the Book of Life.

Fifthly, the gathered people of God symbolize the wedding supper of the Lamb.



The Son of God tabernacled in the flesh and dwelt among us

 

John 1:9-14

Philippians 2:5-8

Hebrews 2:14-18

 

Not water ceremonies, but the Son of God is the source of living water

John 7:37-39

 

 

We look forward to God once again dwelling among us and what our true citizenship is:

 

Philippians 3:20-21

Hebrews 11:8-10; 13-16

 

 

We are raised in new tabernacles when the Lord returns; not just our dwellings are temporary, but the tabernacles or tents of our bodies are temporary:

 

1 Corinthians 15:20-58

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

2 Corinthians 5:1-5

2 Peter 1:12-15 

1 John 3:1-3

 

 

We will rule for 1000 years in the Millennium as kings and priests:

 

Revelation 1:4-6; 5:8-10; 20:4-6

1 Corinthians 6:2-3

 

 

The Fall and final harvest is complete:

 

Revelation 20:4-15

 

 

God will dwell again in Jerusalem:

 

Zechariah 14:4-11 - this is prophetic  fulfillment of Acts 1:9-12; the Lord Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives to go back to His father, and He will return the same way He left - back upon the Mount of Olives.

 

Isaiah 2:1-3

Hosea 12:9

Zechariah 8:1-8

 

  

All must observe the Feast of Tabernacles when the Lord Jesus returns:

 

Zechariah 14:16-19

Ezekiel 45:25

 

 

 

The Word and Son of God tabernacled in the flesh and dwelt among us.  He did this to atone for our sins and overcome the enemies of sin, death and Satan by His resurrection.  His tabernacling in the flesh was to declare His father to us, showing us the model of holy perfection we are to emulate and what awaits us in our eternal destinies.   

 

All who are raised/converted to spirit (our perishable tabernacles changed to imperishable ones) when Christ returns will rule God's Kingdom with Christ which includes upholding the observation of the Feast of Tabernacles for everyone, both Jew and Gentile.  Jerusalem will be God's city from which He rules and His law goes forth (Isaiah 2:2-4). 

 

Everyone who loves God and His son yearn every second of every day looking forward to the day we can shed our weak tabernacles and put on our eternal tabernacles so we may dwell with them forever as co-heirs of Christ and children of God.  Like Abraham, we all look for our heavenly citizenship and the heavenly country as pilgrims.  We observe this feast in temporary tabernacles or booths as a reminder that we are indeed pilgrims in this world who are just passing through; living in this world but called out of it (John 15:18-19; 17:6-16) to inherit an eternal residence.  We also do this to know and understand that we rely on God for our sustenance, for everything we need.

 

The Feast of Tabernacles is the third and last of the pilgrimage feasts which signifies God dwelling with us again and forever.  This is why Scripture makes it absolutely clear all must worship God with one prominent way to do so is by observing His Feast of Tabernacles. It is not by accident that Scripture in Deuteronomy 31:9-13 tells us the Law is read to all/brought to everyone's remembrance every Sabbath year (every 7 years) during the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles is a firm reminder it is all about being one again with God in all aspects.  This includes observance of His Law and festivals, with the ultimate fulfillment of God dwelling with us forever. 

 

The one thing we must realize is that God's Word applies to everyone, not just the Jews.  The mistake people make and have been taught is that the Law and holy days are Jewish.  No, they are not Jewish – they are God’s. God is not a respecter of persons, but He accepts all people – Jew and Gentile, who fear Him and work righteousness (Acts 10:21-45).  Just as He gives His holy spirit and Messiah to both the Jewish and non-Jewish people, He also gives us His feast days that lay out His plan of salvation with Messiah at its center.

 

The Jews were meant to be a model nation to the world (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:5-8), but they failed because of human weakness that we all have.  Just because they failed, does not mean that we are not to obey God's Word – His ways, as given to them (Psalm 103:7).  This applies to all of God’s holy days, including the weekly Sabbath.  The Sabbath commemorates God's act of creation and rest while the annual holy days/feasts represent His plan of salvation for His fallen creation. 

 

Remember, Israel was a theocracy when God lived among His people in Moses' day.  This theocracy will return when the Lord Jesus comes again and rules from Jerusalem.  Israel will finally be the nation it was always meant to be. 

The prophet Isaiah connects the millennial kingdom directly with the Feast of Tabernacles as a partial fulfillment of this feast in God’s plan of salvation.  Isaiah describes this future time when God will tabernacle among His people again in the very same manner as how God tabernacled with His people during the days of Moses.  And just like the prophet Ezekiel, Isaiah also refers to this 7-year period as a time of judgment and burning/cleansing which leads right into the 1,000-year Kingdom of God.  Isaiah describes columns of smoke by day and fire by night (just like in the 40 years in the wilderness) above every dwelling place:

Isaiah 4:

2    In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious; And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing For those of Israel who have escaped.

3    And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy --- everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem.

4    When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning,

5    then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering.

6    And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.      (NKJV)


As we can see, Isaiah in verse 6 also mentions that there will be a tabernacle as a place of refuge, for shade from the heat and as a shelter from the storm – and we must importantly note that the word ‘tabernacle’ in verse 6 is the word ‘sukkah’, the very same word in the name of the feast; the Feast of Tabernacles is the Feast of Booths/Sukkot.  As we read earlier, ‘sukkah’ (Strong’s #5521) is singular for ‘sukkot’ and it means booth, tabernacle, etc.  There is no doubt that the Feast of Tabernacles prophesies of the future time when God will once again tabernacle among His people; besides Isaiah 4:5-6 mentioning the smoke/day and fire/night, the word 'tabernacle' and related words/terms are used 5 times in these two verses: 'dwelling place'; 'a covering'; 'a tabernacle'; 'a place of refuge'; 'a shelter'.

Zechariah 14:16-19 reinforces this truth that the millennial kingdom represents the Feast of Tabernacles when it declares all peoples must honor God with a pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles shortly after Messiah returns to initiate the Kingdom of God:

Zechariah 14:

16   And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

17   And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.

18   If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

19   This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

20   In that day "HOLINESS TO THE LORD" shall be engraved on the bells of the horses.  The pots in the LORD's house shall be like the bowls before the altar. 

21   Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the LORD of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.    (NKJV)

 

 

 

A beautiful illustration of when the Lord Jesus returns, Messiah will dwell/tabernacle among His people appears in Mark 9.  When Jesus is transfigured, the apostle Peter reflexively says that he should build tabernacles for Him; of course this was not necessary, because Jesus was not staying at this time, but came to atone for our sins:

 

Mark 9:

1    And He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power."

2    Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves;

         and He was transfigured before them.

3    His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

4    And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.

5    Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles:

         one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" ---

6    because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.

7    And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"

8    Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.     (NKJV)

 

 

However, there will come the time when the Lord Jesus returns in great glory, and He will dwell/tabernacle among His people --- the holy city of Jerusalem is where He will tabernacle and we with Him.

 

 

 

God is longsuffering and not willing to let us perish.  To Him, a day is like a thousand years and He has set His salvation plan in motion, waiting for the time to recreate the heavens and earth anew where righteousness dwells:

 

2 Peter 3:

7    But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

8    But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

9    The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

10   But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

11   Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,

12   looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

13   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.    (NKJV)

 

 

We must realize that God’s plan for mankind is itself patterned after the Feast of Tabernacles and the 8th Day of Assembly (also see next section).  We were created so God can tabernacle with us, but sin broke this plan and relationship. 


The 7-day Feast of Tabernacles is patterned after the 7-day week which ends with the 7th day Sabbath, where a day is like a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8) and this week consists of 7,000 years, 1 day = 1,000 years.


The 6 days of God’s creative work are represented by the first 6,000 years of man.  The 7th day, the weekly Sabbath is represented by the rest in the Millennium (the 7th set of 1,000 years), which is the final 1,000 years bringing the total to 7,000 years. 

 

These 7 days are the 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles, and will gather and conclude all of the harvests. 

The Promised Land that Israel entered with Joshua after the 40 years in the wilderness was only a type/pattern of the true Promised Land that the Messiah will lead us into.  The true Promised Land is the millennial reign of Messiah in a restored Israel, with His saints ruling besides Him as kings and priests; the true Promised Land is eternal glory and eternal life when God dwells among His people forever. 

 

In other words, the 7th set of 1,000 years, which is the millennial reign of Messiah dwelling in our midst as represented in the Feast of Tabernacles, is the Sabbath rest spoken of in Hebrews 4. 


The 7th day = the 7th millennium  = Sabbath rest.

 

The 7th day weekly Sabbath and the 1,000 year Kingdom of God are intricately tied together, and the two together in this prophetic relationship outlining God’s salvation plan is what is being referred to as the Sabbath rest which still awaits the people of God:

 

Hebrews 4:

3    For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

4    For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works";

5    and again in this passage, "They shall not enter My rest."

6    Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

7    He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts."

8    For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.

9    So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.    (NASB)

 

 

The Bible makes this relationship clear, because it speaks of the 7th day weekly Sabbath since Creation together with the rest that remains for God’s people who failed to enter due to their disobedience.  The rest that remains for the people of God is the 7th millennium – the Kingdom of God with Messiah having His tabernacle among His people as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, which is what the Feast of Tabernacles represents.

 

The Sabbath rest still remaining for God’s people means that the 7th day weekly Sabbath and the Feast of Tabernacles (like all the Biblical feasts) are still to be observed – and they are for all of God’s people, whether Jew or Gentile, man or woman.  The Sabbath is not a “Jewish” thing; it is God’s Sabbath rest – both the 7th day since Creation and the 7th millennium since Creation.  

 

This is apparent, because the Bible states that God’s Sabbath rest in His millennial Kingdom is for all people, and it is tied together with the 7th day weekly Sabbath; this means both Sabbaths are for the Jew and the Gentile, and they fall or stand together.  God’s salvation plan of 7,000 years is patterned after the week with the 7th day and readily shows this. 

 

So if we know that the 1,000 year (the 7th millennium and Sabbath rest) reign of Messiah is for everyone (and we know this to be true), then if we are honest with ourselves, we know in our heart of hearts that the 7th day weekly Sabbath is for everyone, too. This is what it really and fully means when Messiah said He is the Lord of the Sabbath and the Sabbath was made for man; He is Lord of both the weekly 7th day Sabbath and the “weekly” 7th millennium Sabbath:


Mark 2:

27   And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

28   Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath."     (NKJV)



The Kingdom of God which Messiah will return to establish and rule over is the 7th millennium Sabbath rest that awaits God’s people and is patterned after the 7th day weekly Sabbath.  The 7th day Sabbath is the true Lord’s day.  And since we know to God a day is like a thousand years, this means when we say “the Day of the LORD” we can also mean the 7th millennium Sabbath of the 1,000-year Kingdom of God.

 

The 7-day Feast of Tabernacles portrays the time when the Lord Jesus has returned and will dwell with His own during His 70th week and the ensuing 1,000 years of the millennial Kingdom of God.  Those in the First Resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6) will reign with Christ in new tabernacles/bodies.  

At the end of the 1000 years, the devil will be released for a short time and will be dealt with once and for all (Revelation 20:7-10).  Final judgment and then death itself will be destroyed.  Those who have been judged as approved, become part of the 2nd Resurrection and will live forever more; those who are not approved, die the 2nd and eternal death (Revelation 20:11-15).  

Where the Wavesheaf Offering day (Reishit Katzir/Beginning of the Harvest or Yom HaBikkurim/Feast of Firstfruits) and Pentecost (Shavuot/Feast of Weeks) symbolizes the grain harvests of barley and wheat, respectively, the Feast of Tabernacles is the Fall festival of the 2nd and final harvest of ingathering at the end of the year (Exodus 23:16; 34:22) which is the fruit harvest.  This includes grapes, olives, pomegranate, figs, etc.  This is why the Feast of Tabernacles is also called the Feast of Ingathering – it is the feast of the final harvest, the last harvest of the harvest year.

 

The Feast of Tabernacles represents the final harvest of everyone written in the Book of Life and who receive the gift of eternal life. At first, as part of the 1st resurrection, we rule with Messiah for 1,000 years in new tabernacles/bodies, with Him residing in our midst:

 

Revelation 20:

4    And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

5    But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

6    Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.    (NKJV)

 

 

Then everything is prepared (including doing away with the enemies of God such as sin, death and Satan with his demons) and the final harvest of the 2nd resurrection is reaped:

 

Revelation 20:

10   The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11   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 found no place for them.

12   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 which were written in the books.

13   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.

14   Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15   And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.     (NKJV)

 

 

We can therefore see that the Bible describes the Feast of Tabernacles as having a very special quadruple (4-fold) meaning to be fulfilled in the future not too far from now.

 

In its personal scale, it refers to the saints in the 1st resurrection being raised or changed into new bodies – new tabernacles/tents. 

 

In a small or micro scale it is a representation of God tabernacling with (dwelling in the midst of) His people through His ordained son and Messiah for the 1,000 years of the millennial Kingdom of God. 

In its larger and macro scale it is also a representation of God's 7-day (7,000-year) plan of salvation with the final harvest of the righteous at the end of the 1,000 years of the Kingdom of God at 2nd resurrection of the Great White Throne Judgment.

And in a yet grander scale is the truth that the salvation plan of God follows the context of the wedding customs of ancient Israel of which the Feast of Tabernacles is a major part.  Where Messiah returns for His bride on Yom Teruah/the Feast of Trumpets and He blows the Great Trumpet of Jubilee on Yom Kippur/the Day of Atonement to free and gather His people for the wedding supper of God --- Sukkot/the Feast of Tabernacles IS the wedding supper of God.  The wedding supper begins with the destruction of God’s physical enemies where all of God’s people, both those in the 1st resurrection and the re-gathered, will be together as one in Israel to enjoy the glorious millennial kingdom.  Then the wedding supper ends with the destruction of God’s spiritual enemies and now includes more guests – everyone else, those from the 2nd resurrection. 

But here is where we must remember that sukkot/tabernacles are temporary.  Even though the returned and glorified Messiah dwells among us in the millennium, it nevertheless is still a temporary setting which looks forward to something even greater – something permanent, something eternal.  After all, why are all the members of the wedding party and the guests gathered together at the wedding supper?  Is there an even greater meaning of the wedding in God’s plan of salvation?  Yes, the Feast of Tabernacles is just a prelude – now we, all of God’s people, are finally ready for eternity in the new heavens, new earth and New Jerusalem – which are represented in the 8th Day of Assembly; see the next section. 



Please see next article in the God’s Salvation Plan in the Biblical Feast Days series: The 8th Day of Assembly (Shemini Atzeret)

  

Link to God’s Salvation Plan in the Biblical Feast Days articles outline