(11) The Feast of Tabernacles

Leviticus 23:34; Deuteronomy 16:13

This festival is also known as "The Feast of Booths" (Hebrew: Sukkot). It is celebrated on 15 Tishrei. The Jews were commanded to build little huts on top of their houses. These would be home for the duration of the feast. These temporary dwellings remind the Jews of the tents the Israelites lived in during the 40 year wandering in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:42). The Lord God guided them through the wilderness to the Promised Land with His presence, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Understanding the feast
There are five major themes encapsulated in the Feast of Tabernacles. Each of these teaches us something of its historical and spiritual significance.
1) The Season of our Joy
This joy (rejoicing) marks the end of the time of repentance (Day of Atonement). It is the realisation that God has truly forgiven His people.
2. The Festival of Ingathering
The Feast of Tabernacles is also the Harvest Festival in Israel. The term 'ingathering' speaks for itself when we consider the farmer reaping both the fruit of the field and trees (Exodus 23:16). There would be much rejoicing over the many blessings that God had given them.
3. The Feast of Dedication
It was during this season that King Solomon dedicated the first Temple unto the Lord (1 Kings 8). The feast continued to be known by this name even after the destruction of the Temple and the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 3:1-4).
4. The Feast of the Nations
In Numbers 29:12-35 there is an almost endless list of sacrifices during the Feast of Tabernacles. Commentators connect the 70 bullocks with the 70 nations mentioned in Deuteronomy 32:8. God promised to bless all nations through Abraham (Genesis 12:3). Ultimately, the nations of the world would be blessed through Abraham's seed, the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:8,14,16,29) at the end of the ages (Zechariah 14:16-18).
5. The Festival of Lights
This commemorates the illumination of the Temple as the priests lighted the candlesticks. These lights represent the Shekinah Glory of God as His presence filled the Temple while Solomon dedicated it (1 Kings 8:10-11; Ezekiel 43:5). The feast also reminds Israel that God ordained them to be the light unto the nations (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).

The Messiah
We know that the Lord Jesus Christ will come again during the Feast of Tabernacles. At this time He will set up His Millennial Reign on earth after He has raptured His Church. The feast also speaks of His first coming over 2,000 years ago. The alternative names for the Feast of Tabernacles are highlighted in His birth too:
1. The Season of our Joy
The angel announced, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10).
2. The Festival of Ingathering
The Lord Jesus Christ came to gather together the people of Israel, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people" (Luke 1:68) "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11).
3. The Feast of Dedication
It was at this time that Jesus was dedicated in the Temple at Jerusalem (Luke 2:21-32).
4. The Festival of the Nations
Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all nations, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10) "For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people" (Luke 2:30-31).
5. The Festival of Lights
This baby born in Bethlehem was the Light of Israel and the whole world, "A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel" (Luke 2:32) "saying, I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).

All the feasts find their spiritual and final fulfilment in Jesus Christ. John 1:14 informs us that "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." The Greek behind this statement means "tabernacled." Whereas the Shekinah Glory of God's Presence filled the Temple, the Lord Jesus Christ was literally "God with us" (Matthew 1:23) because, as John declares, "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14).