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Succot

The Feast Of Tabernacles

   

The Lord said to Moses, Say to the Israelites: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Feast of SUCAH3.GIFTabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work.  For seven days present offerings made to the LORD by fire and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the LORD by fire.  It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.

   Leviticus 23:33·36

 

     THE MOST JOYFUL of Israel's festivals was the Feast of Tabernacles.  It came at the end of the harvest when the hearts of the people were naturally gladdened,  The crops had been reaped.  As they looked around them, they remembered that six months before, at Passover time they had dedicated the entire harvest to the Lord by the offering of firstfruits, and now not only were their barns full, their heats were overflowing with joy and thanksgiving.

 

     But that was not all.  As they looked around on the goodly land, the fruits of which had just enriched the they remembered that by interposition the Lord their God had brought them to this land and had given it to them, and that He ever claimed it as peculiarly His own.  For the land was strictly connected with the history of the people; and both the land and the history were linked with the mission of Israel.  If the beginning of the harvest had pointed back to the birth of Israel in their Exodus from Egypt, and forward to the true Passover· sacrifice in the future; if the corn harvest was connected with the giving of the law on Mount Sinai in the past, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost; the harvest thanksgiving of the Feast of Tabernacles reminded Israel, on the one hand, of their dwelling in booths in the wilderness, while on the other
hand, it pointed to the final harvest when Israel's mission should be completed, and all nations gathered unto the Lord.  ('Edersheirn, Alfred, The Temple, Its Ministry and Services, pp. 232·233).

 

     The Feast of Tabernacles is two weeks after Rosh Hashanah.  It is always on the same day of the week as New Year's Day.  A pious Jew began his preparation for the festival as soon as the Day of Atonement was over.  He had only five days to erect a sukkah, a booth in which he and his family would dwell during the feast.

 

The Feast of Booths

 

     Historically, Tabernacles looked backward to the Exodus when Israel lived in booths. "Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt.  I am the LORD your God"   (Leviticus 23:42-43).

 

     Each family built a sukkah, which was actually a temporary outdoor structure.  It had a twofold purpose: to remind the Jews of their Exodus and to indicate the transitoriness of human life.  The roof was made of slats placed closely to one another so that the shade inside the sukkah was greater than the light.  The roof had to rest on the walls; it could not be fastened.  It was then thatched with green branches, and the entire room, walls, and ceiling decorated with flowers and fruit.

 

     Every male who attends an Orthodox synagogue during Tabernacles (Sukkot) carries with him what is called "the four species": an etrog, which is a citron, in his left hand; the lulav, a palm branch, in his right hand; two myrtle twigs and two willow branches are bound to the palm branch.  The Scriptures state, "On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God forseven days" (Leviticus 23:40).

 

     Sukkot not only looked back into history, it also looked forward into the future when Cod's promise to Abraham will be fulfilled, when all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:3).

 

     The Feast of Tabernacles was the last of the three festivals when all adult men of ancient Israel thronged Jerusalem. "Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place He will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you" (Deuteronomy 16: 16·17).

 

     The Mishnah gives us a vivid picture of these pilgrimages.  From all over the land, all roads were thronged with gaily clad people keeping the holy days.  Everybody carried his offering to the Lord. There were olives, dates, pomegranates, wheat, barley, and perhaps a pigeon or turtledove.  The rich brought more, the poor less.  Those who could, brought their offering in carts, heavily laden with gifts; the poor carried theirs in wicker baskets; but each brought a gift in proportion to the way the Lord God blessed him.

 

     As the pilgrims journeyed, they sang the songs of Zion, the psalms.  On one side of the road, a family would sing from Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the hills.  Across the road, the response would come: Where does my help come from?  And all together: My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.

 

     Others would sing: I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.' Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together.  That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel (Psalm 122:1·4).

 

     It was Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.  The tribes of Israel, their hearts with praise to the Lord, were going up to Jerusalem to render unto Him honor and praise and glory.

 

     Every Sukkot service in the Temple. not only looked backward in history, it looked forward in prophecy.  God had spoken to Abram from Ur of the Chaldees and promised him, All peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:3), and the temple service proclaimed this truth.

 

     The services of the week were elaborate; in all there were seventy bullocks that were sacrificed. According to the Talmud, there were seventy nations in the world, and a bullock was slain each year during the Feast of Tabernacles for each of them. The ancient rabbis realized a wonderful truth about the prophetic message of Sukkot: 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: 16).

 

     The seventh and last day of the feast is a very special day.  It is called Hoshana Rabba, "the great Hoshanah."  !n the synagogue during the morning service after seven circuits are made around the altar with the lulav (palm branches, they are beaten on the floor of the synagogue floor or its furniture while the worshipers are chanting, the voice announcing the coming of the Messiah is heard.  Succot (anonymous publication by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations Rabbinical Council of America) p. 10.

 

     This beating of the branches is work which is illegal on the Sabbath.  It is for this reason that "the calendar was fixed in such a way that the New Year would not occur on a Sunday so that Hoshana Rabba should not fall on the Sabbath which would cause the taking of the willow to be cancelled.  The Encyclopedia Judaica, “Hoshana Rabba,” vol. 8, p. 1027

 

How Jesus Kept the Feast

 

     One of the ceremonies of the Sukkot service was the libation of water procession each morning.  Abraham Millgram aptly describes this ceremony:

 

     The water was brought in a golden flask from the fountain of Siloam and poured by the officiating kohen into the basin near the altar. This was the most joyous of the temple ceremonies. The Mishnah says that "he who has not seen the rejoicing at the place of water-drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life" (Sukkah 5:1). The ceremony was accompanied by a torch-light procession, dances, singing and chanting by the Levitical choir of the fifteen pilgrim psalms, the songs of ascents (Psalms 120-134), to the accompaniment of musical instruments.  It was a symbolic act performed in compliance with the prophetic verse, "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" ' (Isaiah 12:3).4    Millgram, Abraham, Jewish Worship, p. 204.

 

     Picture this scene from the life of Jesus: It was Hashana Rabba, on the last and greatest day of the Feast.  See the crowds in the temple courts, watch the white-robed priests as they climb the steep ascent from Siloam to the Temple. They are carrying a golden vase of the water they just drew with joy from the well of Siloam. The water was poured into the basin near the altar. Then, as the priest stood with his empty flask, a Man who had been watching cried with a loud voice:  If a man 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.  (John 7:37-38).

 

     These were strange words to say, anywhere, at any time.  But in the Temple on Hoshana Rabba, they were not just strange, they were audacious.  The entire libation-of-water ceremony celebrated God's provision of life-giving water to the Israelites when they were dying of thirst in the wilderness.  "If a man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink."  Our Lord was claiming that the miracle in the wilderness, when the rock gushed forth water 'pointed to Himself!  This is one of the messages of John’s Gospel where we also find our Lord claiming to be the fulfillment of other incidents under the Law: Jacob’s ladder, the brazen serpent in the wilderness, and the manna:

 

     There is a future Feast of Tabernacles that is described in the New Testament:

 

     And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with ,them, and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!  Then He Said, write this down for these words are trustworthy and true." He Said to me:  "It is 'done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  (Revelation 21:3-6).

 

     Christ our Passover became Christ the Firstfruits from the dead. At Pentecost, the firstfruits of Israel's ripened harvest were presented to the Lord.  The first sheaves were reaped from Israel.  But Israel did not keep the harvest to herself.  The gospel, which was to the Jew first, has been proclaimed to the uttermost parts of the. earth.  It has been a long time since Pentecost, and we longingly listen for the sound of the trumpet, the return of our Lord.  Then after that we look for Israel's Day of Atonement and the nations of our Lord keeping the Feast of Tabernacles.

 

     After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm, branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’  (Revelation 7 :9-1 0).

 

     It's Hoshana Rabba, the great day of the feast!

 

How about you?

Have you received your Redeemer, the Stone whom the builders rejected?

In Him is life, light and joy and in His sacrifice is forgiveness of sin.

He, the Messiah is the way to Eternal Shabbath, Yom Shekulo Shabbat!

- The Messianic Age  Day of Total Shabbat -

Eternal Paradise/Heaven, of the world to come.

Is that of one long extended, unending eternal Sabbath Day.

 

 

Reprinted for educational purposes from:

ISRAEL’S Holy Days, In type and Prophecy, Daniel Fuchs, chapter 11

Chosen People Ministries  www.chosenpeople.com

And other publication sources.

 

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