Sukkot 101

Learn About the Almighty's Yearly Family Reunion!

 

Sukkot/Tabernacles has always been a celebration not just for Israel, but for all Nations!  From the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt, to the sacrifices specifically for the nations that were commanded to be done during the Feast, to us tabernacling together with Messiah when He returns, Sukkot is the true yearly family reunion for His people.  So, whether you consider yourself an "Israelite", "Grafted In", or even a "Gentile Christian",

this is YOUR time to gather for a holy convocation with the family you didn't even know you have:  the Ecclessia, the body of Messiah.  

If you can observe Tabernacles in Jerusalem, that's awesome.  If not, please join us at Sukkot of the Rockies!

What is the Feast of Tabernacles and Why is it Important to Believers Today?

The Feast of Tabernacles / Introduction to Sukkot

 

The seventh (and final) feast given to Israel is called Sukkot, or the “Feast of Tabernacles.”  Sukkot is observed in the fall, from the 15th to the 22nd of the seventh month on the Biblical calendar.  During this time many Jewish families construct a sukkah, a small hut in which meals are eaten throughout the festival, some also sleep each night of the Feast in the sukkah. The sukkah is used to remember the huts [plural: sukkot] Israel lived in during their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt.  Later, after Israel entered the land of promise, Sukkot was associated with the fall harvest and came to be known as Chag ha-Asif , the “Festival of Ingathering” (of the harvest) at the end of the year.

 

Certain customs were further incorporated into the observance of Sukkot, including decorating the sukkah, performing special “wave” ceremonies of the “Four Species” (i.e., the lulav), circling the synagogue in a processional while singing hymns, and reciting various Hebrew blessings to sanctify the festival.  While the Torah (five books of Moses) states that Sukkot is a seven-day holiday (Lev. 23:34; Deut. 16:13), an additional day called “Shmini Atzeret” (“Eighth Day”) is also included (Lev. 23:36; Num. 29:35). And since Sukkot marked the end of the agricultural year, a further holiday called “Simchat Torah” (“Joy of the Torah”) was added to celebrate the end of Torah reading cycle for the year as well.

 

During the first and last days of Sukkot no normal work is permitted (see Lev. 23:39).  The intervening days of Sukkot are called Chol Ha-Mo’ed, half-holidays during which usual work activities are permitted. Since it is an eight-day festival, there will always be at least one Sabbath that occurs during the festival.

 

If the High Holidays focus on the LORD as our Creator, our Judge, and the One who atones for our sins, the festival of Sukkot is the time when we celebrate all that the LORD has done for us. Prophetically understood, the seven days picture olam haba, the world to come, and the Millennial Kingdom age. If Y’shua (Jesus) was born during Sukkot as the Biblical record seems to indicate, then another (and prophetic) meaning of the “word became flesh and ‘tabernacled with us’” (John 1:14) foretells the coming Millennial Kingdom, when King Messiah will again “tabernacle with us” during his reign from Zion.

The holiday of Sukkot represents a time of renewed fellowship with God, remembering His sheltering provision and care for us as we traveled in the desert, surrounded by the Clouds of Glory...  In practical terms, the festival is celebrated for eight days during which we are commanded to “dwell” in a sukkah - a temporary structure.  The sukkah itself symbolizes our dependence upon God’s care and sustenance.  We eat meals in the sukkah and recite a special blessing at this time. The Great Fall Harvest Sukkot is the conclusion of the Biblical fall holidays and the last of the three annual pilgrimage festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot (Deut. 16:16).  

 

The word “simchah”, meaning “joy”, appears several times in the Bible in reference to Sukkot: You shall keep the Feast of Sukkot seven days, when you have gathered in the produce... You shall rejoice in your feast... because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. (Deuteronomy 16:13-15)  In fact, in ancient Israel, the joy of Sukkot was so great that it became known simply as “The Feast.”  Later it was known as the “season of our joy.”  It was a time of many sacrifices (Numbers 29) and a time when (on Sabbatical years) the Torah would be read aloud to the people (Deut. 31:10-13).  From an agricultural perspective in ancient Israel, Sukkot corresponded to the fruit harvest, and total joy would come after you had harvested all of your crops in the fall, and thereby received sustenance and provision for the coming year from the LORD.  For this reason, Sukkot is sometimes referred to as the Feast of Ingathering.

 

From a spiritual perspective, Sukkot corresponds to the joy of knowing your sins were forgiven (during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement), and also recalls God’s miraculous provision and care after the deliverance from bondage in Egypt (Lev. 23:43). Prophetically, Sukkot anticipates the coming Kingdom of Y’shua the Messiah wherein all the nations shall come up to Jerusalem to worship the LORD during the festival (see Zech. 14:16).

 

Today Sukkot is a time to remember God’s sheltering presence and provision for us for the start of the New Year. In light of the work of Y’shua as our Kohen Gadol (High Priest) of the New Covenant, we now have access to the Heavenly Temple of God (Heb. 4:16).  We are now members of the greater Temple of His body; we are now part of His great Sukkah!

 

 

Sukkot in the Scriptures

 

In Biblical times, Sukkot was considered the most important of all the holidays, referred to simply as “the Festival” (1 Kings 12:32). It was a time of many sacrifices (Numbers 29:12-40) and a time when (on Sabbatical years) the Torah would be read aloud to the people (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). It is one of the three required festivals of the LORD (Exod. 23:14; Deut. 16:16).  The Torah commands three things regarding the festival of Sukkot:  1. To gather the “four species” (Leviticus 23:40)   2. To rejoice before the LORD (Deuteronomy 16:13-14; Leviticus 23:40)   3. To live in a sukkah (Leviticus 23:42)

 

 

Y’shua and the Water Ceremony

During the seven days of Sukkot a sacrificial pouring out of water (called a “water libation”) was performed at the Temple. In a ceremony the High Priest would lead a procession to the pool of Siloam where he would fill a golden pitcher with water and then return to the courtyard of the Temple. When the High Priest would pour out the water, the great crowd of people would wave their lulavot and sing out: “Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.”  Psalm 118 was regarded as a Messianic Psalm, and when Y’shua the Messiah later appeared during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:8-9; Luke 19:38; John 12:13), He was initially greeted with shouts of “Hosanna!” and waving lulav as the Messiah King come to deliver the people of Israel (see also Rev. 7:9-10).

 

On a spiritual level, note that water represents that which nourishes our hearts.  In Jeremiah 2:13 it is written, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”  How often have we sought for “water” from sources other than God?  How often have we “hewed out our own cisterns,” only to find them to be broken, leaking, and ultimately unsatisfying?  How often do we find ourselves thirsting for that which will truly nourish our hearts?  It was during the last day of Sukkot that Y’shua cried out, “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 7:2, 37-38). Y’shua spoke of the “living water” that He would give to those who ask Him. This “water,” He said, would truly satisfy the thirsty heart and provide everlasting nourishment for life (John 4:14).  He further explained that this water would spring forth within the heart as a result of trusting in Him (John 7:38).  The Apostle John calls this living water the Holy Spirit (John 7:39).  And today Y’shua says, “To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life freely” (see Rev. 21:6 and Isa. 55:1).

 

The Temple Light Show

After the water ceremony, during the evening, special festivities called Simchat Bet HaShoevah [“happiness of the house of the water-drawing”] occurred. During this time the four towering menorahs (lamp stands) were lit up and the Priests would put on a “light show,” performing “torch dances” while the Levites sang and played music. These shows would occur every night of Sukkot, all through the night. These festivities were apparently so spectacular that the Jewish sages have said, “He who has not seen the rejoicing at the Simchat Bet HaShoevah, has never seen rejoicing in his life”.  In this connection we remember that Y’shua revealed Himself to be the Light of the world (John 8:12).  Indeed, Y’shua used the very water from the pool of Siloam to heal the man born blind, thereby miraculously enabling him to see the Light of the World (John 9:5-11). Truly Y’shua is the Substance and inner meaning of this holiday....

 

 

Future Fulfillment

 

The festival of Sukkot has a prophetic dimension awaiting fulfillment.  As the “Day of Ingathering” of the harvest, Sukkot prefigures the gathering together of all God’s people in the days of the Messiah’s reign on earth (Isa. 27:12-13; Jer. 23:7-8).  All of the nations of the earth that survived the Great Tribulation will come together to worship the LORD in Jerusalem during the Feast of Sukkot (Zech. 14:16-17).  Sukkot, therefore is a vision of olam haba, the world to come!  Sukkot also foreshadows the LORD’s sheltering Presence over Israel in the millennial Kingdom.  No longer will Israel be subject to the oppression of the ungodly nations of the world, but God Himself will place His sanctuary in her midst (Ezek. 37:26-28).  

 

Y’shua the Messiah did indeed come to “sukkah” (or “tabernacle”) with us (see John 1:14) in order to purge away our sins and to redeem us to Himself.  Yes, by the eye of faith we see the revelation of the true Shekhinah (Glory) of the LORD God Almighty in the Person of Y’shua our beloved Mashiach. Nevertheless, we still eagerly await His return to establish His Kingdom and therefore to “tabernacle with us” again. At that time Y’shua will set up His everlasting Sukkah with us -- so that that we may know, love, and abide with Him forever! Maran ata (come), LORD Y’shua!!

 

Excerpted from Hebrew4Christians.com “The Festival of Sukkot”   www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Fall_Holidays/Sukkot/sukkot.html

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