Feast of Tabernacles
Yahweh expects His people to grow in knowledge and understanding but He says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," Hosea 4:6. Proverbs 9:10 says, "Knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Without knowledge there can be no understanding! People who reject Yahweh's law and ignore His appointed times (Holy Days, i.e., Sabbaths and Feasts) separate themselves from Yahweh through ignorance and lack understanding of His plan of salvation.
Yahweh's appointed times are memorials of past events in Israel's history and at the same time are type/pictures of future events that will involve all nations. For example: Passover commemorates the time Yahweh's wrath passed over Israel and fell upon Egypt. But the observance also foreshadows the time when Yahweh's wrath will "pass over" people under the blood of His Messiah and fall upon all nations.
Likewise, the Feast of Tabernacles not only commemorates Israel's release from bondage in Egypt and wandering in the wilderness, but also foreshadows the release of all people who turn to the Messiah and away from bondage to sin and their sojourn in this world until Yahweh's Kingdom is set up on earth.
The coming Kingdom of Heaven is prefigured by the Feast of Tabernacles. Yahshua the Messiah will be King of Kings in that Kingdom and will give rest from the struggle with sin to everyone who is permitted to enter the Kingdom. Yahshua's reign will be the time when the will of Yahweh will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Matthew 6:10. Rejecting the law and ignoring Yahweh's appointed times leads to a hardening of the heart and disobedience, which Paul warns (Hebrews 3:7; 4:7) can prevent even those released from bondage from entering the Kingdom.
The Last Great Day signifies the judgment that follows the millennial reign and should not be regarded as one of the days of the Feast of Tabernacles. It symbolizes something else.
Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of Weeks coincide with Israel's two spring grain harvests. The Feast of Tabernacles follows the fall harvest of fruits, grapes and olives. The fall harvest marked the end of the growing season in Israel's agriculture. Israel celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles as a harvest festival as well as a commemoration of wilderness wandering. Exodus 34:22 refers to the Feast of Tabernacles as the Feast of Ingathering. Hence, it is certain that Yahweh also considers the Feast to be a festival of thanksgiving as well as a commemoration.
In his book, The Gospel in the Feasts of Israel, Victor Buksbazen writes, "The Rabbis say, 'He who has not seen Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles does not know what rejoicing means.'" Israel's rejoicing during the Feast was two-fold. First, the people rejoiced in their freedom. They also rejoiced because barns, sheds and wine cellars were filled with bounties of the harvests. Their rejoicing was boisterous with much singing, dancing and feasting.
Yet, for all the noisy merrymaking, the festivities were without the drunken revelry and debauchery prevalent in pagan harvest festivals. Debased intemperance was abominable to Israelites at any time, especially during Yahweh's holy days.
Solemn daily religious ceremonies and sacrifices, plus everyone from high priest to the humblest layman living in temporary dwellings, complied with requirements for commemorating Yahweh's past blessings. Prayers and the singing of Psalms expressed Israel's thanksgiving for those past blessings and requests for continued blessing and protection in the future.
Many of the type/pictures of Yahweh's plan of redemption found in the feasts do not seem to have been understood even by the prophets. It was the people's enacious adherence to the law that preserved the pictures for New Covenant Israel's study and it is hoped, understanding.
The fact that New Covenant scriptures were not available may account for the lack of understanding. But today, after nearly two thousand years, few New Covenant believers have any knowledge or understanding of Old Covenant Israel's customs and religious practices. Hence, most people fail to truly comprehend the spiritual significance of many allegories, metaphors and allusions in the New Testament.
Man's ignorance of Yahweh, due to transgressions of His law and the rejection of His Feasts, is compounded by an ignorance that results in misunderstanding and misapplying many of Yahshua's and the apostles' statements.
There were three harvests in ancient Israel's agriculture. First was the barley harvest, associated with Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Next came the wheat harvest, associated with the Feast of Weeks. Third, the harvest of the fruits of trees and vines, associated with the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. Many harvest scenes and other activities familiar to the ancients are associated allegorically and metaphorically with Yahweh's plan of redemption and are used as type/pictures of events in the plan. The phrase, "for the harvest of the earth is ripe" in Revelation 14:15, indicates Yahweh deliberately timed His holy days to coincide with Israel's harvests.
Two coming resurrections are referred to allegorically in Revelation 14:14-20. The vision speaks of angels who swing sickles over the earth and the earth's human population is harvested. A reaper with a sickle was a common sight in the grain fields during the harvest. He was the person who separated the wheat from the tares, Matthew 13:30. The cut grain was gathered into bundles and taken to the threshing floor. The tares were burned. After the wheat was separated from the chaff it was put into storage and the chaff was burned.
Familiar, mundane events are used to impart understanding of future events that will occur during the unfolding of Yahweh's plan. Literally speaking, Yahshua the Messiah is the one who will separate saints from sinners in the resurrections, Matthew 3;12. Allegories, however, cannot convey understanding of every detail of future events.
"Although Yahweh gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them," Isaiah 30:20. The fulfillment of this prophecy must pertain to the time of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. There has never been a time when Israel hasn't been confronted with adversities and overwhelmed by afflictions. Israel hasn't seen teachers of truth since the days of Yahshua and the Apostles. The resurrected saints who will rule with the Messiah will be spirit-born beings who, like Yahshua after His resurrection, will be able to appear at will to the flesh-and-blood people living in the Kingdom. (Remember, this is during Yahshua's reign on earth and not during Yahweh's eternal Kingdom that follows.)
People who reject the law and ignore the holy days during this age are not likely to become teachers in the Kingdom age. Such people will not know or understand the secret wisdom hidden in Yahweh's Word, 1 Corinthians 2:7-8.
Israel was commanded to dwell in booths during the Feast of Tabernacles, Leviticus 23:42. The reason for this command is given in verse 43. "So that your descendants will know that I [Yahweh] had Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt." There doesn't seem to be any secret, hidden wisdom in this command.
The Feast of Tabernacles is appointed for the time of the full month during the seventh month of the scriptural year and just before the beginning of the rainy season in Israel. The booths, frail structures roofed with branches and reeds, would be of little protection against wind and rain. Yet, Yahweh demanded that His people rejoice before Him while dwelling in these frail, temporary structures during the Feast. With the fruits of their labors in the storehouses, the people rejoiced in Yahweh's blessings regardless of the weather. Living in booths kept them reminded of the fact that in spite of the seeming permanence and prosperity of their nation, their security and way of life was still dependent upon Yahweh's providence.
Today, we should rejoice in the knowledge that Israel's release form bondage in Egypt is a type/picture of our own release from bondage to sin. We should rejoice in the knowledge that the Feast of Tabernacles foreshadows a time of rest from the struggle to overcome the world. Yahweh has promised that anyone who "enters into His rest" (does this mean keep the Feast of Tabernacles?) will rest from his own labors, Hebrews 4:10. The labor to produce the fruit of an agricultural harvest is no longer a part of the lifestyle of most people but the struggle to produce the fruits of righteousness against the degradations of sin is more intense and emotionally demanding than ever.
Obeying Yahweh's command to assembly with brethren for eight days is a repast of spiritual food and rest from the struggle. That point alone should engender a lot of joy. The fact that Yahweh is faithful, Hebrews 10:23, and His many promises to those who obey Him are great and precious, 2 Peter 1:4, merits far more rejoicing than can be expressed in nothing more than solemn, religious ceremonies and rituals. True, solemn ceremony and ritual is an important aspect of correctly observing the Feast, but apart from the ceremonies and rituals there is no call or excuse for somber timidity and reticence among the brethren.
Many things Yahshua said and did cannot be fully understood without some knowledge of the religious ceremonies ancient Israel practiced during the Feast of Tabernacles. For example, we are told in John 7:37-38 that on a Last Great Day of a Feast of Tabernacles Yahshua attended, He stood up 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" We are told this refers to the Holy Spirit which had not yet been given, but we are not told that the statement would be understood by the hearer because of what was taking place in the temple on that day.
Every day of the Feast a priest brought water from the pool of Siloam and poured it out in libation at the altar. The water symbolized rain needed for good crops, and the ritual was regarded as a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessing of rain. The ritual was also considered to be symbolic of the pouring out of Yahweh's Holy Spirit upon all nations at the Messiah's coming. The ceremony was accompanied by the sounding of trumpets, singing of Psalms and prayers. The messianic fervor climaxed with the shout, "Save us now, I beseech thee, O Yahweh."
It must have been immediately after this shout that Yahshua proclaimed Himself to be the answer to their prayers. That the messianic implication was clearly understood is evident from the contention that arose among the people over the fact that Yahshua did not come from where they understood. Scriptures said the Messiah would come.
Another of Yahshua's statements was, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 stems from the fact that the temple was brilliantly illuminated during the Feast. Burning torches and lampstands transformed the temple into a symbol of Yahweh's light. Yahshua told the people that He is the light the temple symbolized.
We do not have an altar upon which to pour water, but we are the people upon whom the Holy Spirit has been poured. Therefore, our observance of Yahweh's Feast should be more fervent and joyous than that of the ancients. We can light up the tabernacle and grounds with a dazzling display of lights during the Feast, but the light to the world that we should really display is the sincerity of our love for the brethren and great rejoicing in the blessings and knowledge Yahweh and His Messiah has given to us.
Should We Keep the Feast of Tabernacles Today?
- Read what the law says about the Feast of Tabernacles. Leviticus 23:33-43. What does Yahweh say about the duration of the statute: Verse 41. Are converts to Yahshua the Messiah included in the generations? Galatians 3:29.
NOTE: As you are aware, not only did the ancient worthies keep these days, but also did the Messiah as an example for us. The Apostles did as well.
Why are we warned not to disobey Yahweh? Hebrews 4:1-11. This says the seventh day is the day of rest. What has this to do with the Feast of Tabernacles? The Feast of Tabernacles prefigures the Messiah's millennial reign which will be an extended Sabbath or period of rest. It will be a time of total rest from the struggle with sin because Satan will be unable to deceive anyone for one thousand years and the righteous rule of Yahshua will be extant. Revelation 20;2-3 and 7-8.
NOTE: Failure to keep the appointed feasts is an act of disobedience of Yahweh's law. Transgression of the law is a sin that separates us from Yahweh. 1 John 3:4 and Isaiah 59:2.
After the Messiah's return, the survivors of what is called the battle of Armageddon will be required to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, Zechariah 14:16-19. Taking this fact into account, it is unreasonable to assume that Yahweh has set aside the requirement for followers of His Son during the interval between the Son's resurrection and His return.
NOTE: We are to learn about the ways of Yahweh now so we can teach others in the Kingdom. We must know when these times are, what to do, how long they last, so that we can rejoice before Yahweh always.
Is there any New Testament support for keeping feasts today? John 7:2 and 10 tell us Yahshua attended the Feast of Tabernacles. Many will say this was before His resurrection and does not support keeping the Feast today. Paul told the Corinthian pagan converts to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread after the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 5:8. Would Paul advocate keeping only one of the feasts commanded in the law.
NOTE: Paul's writings are full of harsh statements about the law, especially its misapplication. In spite of this, Paul was a pious Jewish convert and staunch upholder of the law. His biggest problems arose from the fact that others did not comprehend his understanding of the change in the law that occurred with the change in the priesthood, Hebrews 7:12. Paul told the Ephesians that he must keep the Feast in Jerusalem, Acts 18:21 (King James Version). It was during the seven days (of a Feast) while Paul was frequenting the temple in Jerusalem that he was seized and charged with teaching against the law, Acts 21:27-28.
Since we must obey the command to keep the Feast, why do we not have to obey the law requiring sacrifices during the Feast?
Read Hebrews 10:1-18. Old Covenant law commanded daily sacrifices which only foreshadowed Yahshua's sacrifice. Yahshua's sacrifice set aside the first covenant, not the law, and established the second covenant with a change in the law. This is only one example of the change in the law that occurred with the change in the priesthood. The fact that sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings and oil are no longer required has not been overlooked, but the fact that we should still observe Yahweh's holy days has been. Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 what sacrifice is required in the new covenant and that sacrifice is not limited only to the holy days.
- The manner of observing these days may change, but we still are to observe these holy times. In observing Passover today, we do not slay an animal, but use the new emblems of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine as Yahshua and Paul showed us.
- How do we know the law about living in booths wasn't changed also? The law to observe the Feast of Tabernacles is recorded in Leviticus 23:33-43, "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month Yahweh's Feast of Tabernacles begins." The Hebrew word translated "tabernacles" is "cukkah" (pronounced sook-kaw), Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #5521), but "cukkah" is translated "booths" and the Feast is called the Feast of Booths in the the Jewish Publication Society's version of the Torah. The Jews simply call the Feast "Sukkot."
- The word "feast" in Leviticus 23:34 is translated from "chag" (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #2282) which means festival. The word "feasts" in Leviticus 23:2 is translated from "moedim" (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #4150), which means "appointed or fixed times." The law specifically says, "Live in booths for seven days," Leviticus 23:42. Therefore, the title of the Feast, in the Hebrew, literally means "The Festival of Living in Booths."
John 7:2 speaks of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Greek word translated "tabernacles" in this verse is "skenopegia" (Strong's Greek Dictionary #4634) which means setting up a "skene." "Skene" (Strong's Greek Dictionary #4633) means "tent."
The English word "tabernacle" conveys the idea of a permanent, even imposing, building used as a place of worship. The Hebrew word used to refer to the tabernacle set up by Moses as a place of worship in the wilderness is "mishkan." "Mishkan" (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #4908) has a meaning similar to, but different in connotation from "cukkah."
The Greek word "skene" is translated "tabernacles" in the King James Version of Matthew 17:4, Mark 9:5 and Luke 9:33. In the same verses of the Revised Standard Version "skene" is translated "booths" and in the New International Version, "shelters." The Greek word "skenopegia" should have been properly translated "booths" as was the Hebrew word "cukkah" in the Jewish Publication Society's Version.
The significance of this translation problem from Hebrew to Greek is in the fact that the Greek words used in translation have the connotation of a temporary shelter such as a hut or tent. The idea that the shelters should be constructed of entwined leafy branches or boughs does not come through in the Greek, but the idea of dwelling in temporary shelters during the Feast does. If the English translators had chosen English words which correctly conveyed the meanings of the Hebrew words associated with the Feast of Tabernacles in the Old Testament, it would be plain that the requirement to dwell in booths during the Feast applies to the new covenant as well as the old.
What Should Living in Booths During the Feast Teach Followers of Messiah?
Read Deuteronomy 8:10-18. For old covenant Israelites, living in booths was not only a reminder of Israel's wilderness wandering, but also a humbling reminder that people were just as dependent upon Yahweh's blessings in the Promised Land as their forefathers had been in the wilderness. Deuteronomy 8:10-18 is as applicable in the new covenant as in the old.
NOTE: Living in booths should not only remind us of Israel's wilderness experience, but also invoke humility and an awareness of our dependency upon Yahweh's blessings.
Temporary dwellings are an acknowledgement of the transitory nature of life. We are merely sojourners and homeless wanderers. The only truly permanent home we will ever have is the place the Messiah is preparing for His followers in His Father's house, John 14:1-4.
NOTE: If living in booths teaches us nothing else, it should open our eyes to this truth. We are to spend this time living in temporary shelters, in pilgrimage for the eternal city whose builder and maker is Yahweh.
Scriptures do not give specific details or instructions for constructing booths. Rabbis concluded from the following scriptures that a cukkah (booth) was to be nothing more than a temporary shelter like those built by desert nomads and shepherds. "On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim for seven days," Leviticus 23:40. "Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles palms and shade tress, to make booths," Nehemiah 8:15. It is believed by some that the shelter built by Jonah, Jonah 4:5-6, was like a cukkah built for the Feast.
Tradition, based on rabbinical understanding of the Torah, requires the booths be frail structures roofed with leafy branches capable of providing shade from the sun, but allowing a person to look up and see the moon and stars through the leaves during the night. The shelter can be sturdy enough to withstand a normal breeze, but incapable of providing much protection during a rain storm.
NOTE: It seldom rained in Israel during the Feast of Tabernacles because the Feast was observed just before the beginning of the rainy season. Rabbis say that women, girls and boys still dependent upon their mothers are exempt from the requirement that all Israelites shall live in booths during the Feast. Women and children are not prohibited from living in booths if they wish, but the command is mandatory for men and older boys. The Rabbis, however, do not find any scriptures that object to even men and boys eating and sleeping in a regular house during a rain storm. Neither is an invalid or sick person required to live in a booth during the Feast. After the dispersion of 70 C.E., it was impossible to assemble in Jerusalem, so Jews built their booths at home and gathered in the local synagogue for religious ceremonies.
Who is to attend the Feast? Deuteronomy 16:13-14.
NOTE: We are free to travel, therefore, we have no excuse for disobeying the command to assemble with brethren at a site anywhere in the country chosen for keeping the Feast. We do not build booths in the Jewish tradition, but we do live in temporary housing. Yahweh's command to live in booths was not imposed upon Israel as a punishment intended to inflict hardships upon His people. Our climate is colder and harsher in the fall than the climate of Israel and since even men and older boys were permitted to seek shelter in regular houses during storms, it is unlikely Yahweh objects to the solid roofs and weatherproof walls of trailers and RVs as temporary dwellings in our climate. Living in these temporary dwellings for eight days in this climate is complying with the spiritual intent of the law better than adhering rigidly to the letter of the law about how the booth is to be constructed, then possibly spending most of the Feast eating and sleeping in a house because of bad weather. Enduring the discomforts of a tent for eight days is commendable and, no doubt, a more literal compliance with the law. But a tent dweller should not be criticized for seeking shelter from cold and rain in adverse weather. Neither should people be censured who, for some legitimate reason, must stay in a motel during the Feast.
New Covenant Services--Feast of Tabernacles
All males are commanded to assemble before Yahweh three times during each year, Exodus 23:17. Protection is promised, even rewards, for obeying this command, Exodus 34:24; Leviticus 26:3-12. Gentiles (non-Israelites) and women, Luke 2:41, are not forbidden to attend. All who attend, whether men, women, children or sojourners, are expected to be present at religious services and other convocations during the Feast. A noisy, inattentive trampling in the tabernacle during services is intolerable and unacceptable. Yahweh warns against such actions in Isaiah 1:12-17. Romans 12:1-8 tells us the sort of sacrifice and action that is acceptable to Yahweh.
Since animal sacrifice ceased with Yahshua's sacrifice and priestly temple ritual ended with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, new covenant religious services consist of music, singing, prayers, reading of Psalms and preaching. Meditation upon a few scriptures speaking of these components of a religious service may give some insight into a hidden spiritual significance for the Feast.
Music and Singing
1 Samuel 16:23 says that music can bring relief to a troubled soul, as in the case of Saul, and drive off evil spirits. Many will concede that modern rock music does the opposite and exercises a devilish influence. Of course, most people are not thinking of devilish as an influence exercised by evil spirits. Saul could not have been soothed and calmed by any music that had even a remote affinity with rock music. It had to have been a soothing type of music that enabled Yahweh's Holy Spirit to influence him.
Spiritual music can fill the tabernacle with the glory of Yahweh, 2 Chronicles 5:12-14; lift people out of the mire of daily troubles, Psalm 40:2-3; and prepare the way for the preaching of Yahweh's Word, 2 Kings 15-16.
Scriptures such as 1 Chronicles 25:6 inform us that instrumental music was played in the temple. 2 Chronicles 5:12-13 tells us that instrumental music was also played as an accompaniment for singers. The Hebrew word "alamoth" meaning "maindens" in 1 Chronicles 15:20 indicates there was a female as well as a male choir in old covenant worship services.
Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, Revelation 14:2 and other scriptures show us that instrumental music and singing is acceptable to Yahweh in the new covenant and are not out of place in worship services at the Feast. Hebrews 13:15-16 and Hosea 14:2 reveal today's' sacrifices are spiritual songs of praise and thanks.
Old covenant observances of the Feast of Tabernacles were not all singing and dancing. The festival included eight days of solemn religious ceremonies, sacrifices and prayers. The people's thanksgiving for the year's rain and bounty of the harvest was expressed in fervent prayers. The invocations included many intercessions for the continued blessing of rain in due season. Many prayers asked for the coming of the Messiah, forgiveness of Israel's sins and fulfillment of promised inheritance in the coming Kingdom.
Prayers for judgment upon the nations must have been accompanied with prayers asking Yahweh to temper His judgment with mercy because sacrifices for the sins of the nations were made each day of the Feast.
Psalm 9:1-2, 2:8; Isaiah 64:1-2 and Jeremiah 10:25 are examples of prayers requesting judgment upon the nations which could have been offered at the Feast. The prayer in Psalm 106:47 "Save us O Yahweh our Elohim and gather us from the nations," was modified on the Last Great Day to "Save us now O Yahweh...."
Yahweh's will is that new covenant Israelites pray without ceasing, giving thanks for everything, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. His people are urged to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that they may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need, Hebrews 4:16, This is expected in daily life, but when are Yahweh's people closer to the throne of grace than when assembled for the Feast of Tabernacle? When could people be more unified in prayers of thanksgiving and request for material blessings, protection and guidance? When could they pray, as a people, more earnestly and fervently for a merciful judgment upon enemies, nations and people who do not obey Yahweh because they do not know Him?
Yahshua warns in Matthew 6:5 and Luke 18:10-14 that condescending, self-righteous prayers and an ostentatious show of praying is not pleasing to Yahweh. He also warns that hypocritical prayer and many repetitions in prayer are as vain as the babblings of pagans to idols, Matthew 6:7. These are warnings about wrong forms of private prayer, but the temptation for public prayers to assume such affections is greater than that for private prayers. The Feast is an opportunity for much pubic prayer that should not be neglected but neither should it be spoiled by prayers that displease Yahweh.
Many people take such scriptures as: "Speak to one another with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs...," Ephesians 5:19, to mean reading an Old Testament Psalm during worship services. It is hardly likely Yahweh would have preserved the Psalms if reading a Psalm during services was objectionable to Him. However, thoughtless reading of written words, even if somberly spoken, cannot be pleasing true worship.
The Hebrew word translated Psalm is "mizmowr" (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #4210) which literally means "instrumental music" but figuratively "mizmowr" denotes a lyric poem set to music. This explains why the introduction to many Psalms say the Psalm is a song. Many Psalms were composed to commemorate some event or occasion and were sung or chanted repeatedly during special annual temple service. Psalm 118 is the Psalm that was sung or chanted each year during Feast of Tabernacles services. The Jews, to this day, still repeat this Psalm during the celebration of the Feast. Psalm 118 is particularly appropriate because it speaks metaphorically of many spiritually significant things in the Feast. For example:
Verses 1-6: A call for praise and thanksgiving.
Verses 7-14: Israel has been freed from the nations and Yahweh is given credit for this salvation.
Verses 15-18: A cukkah, a shelter or temporary dwelling may or may not be a tent. But an "ohel," the word translated tent in verse 15 (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #168) means a tent set up in open country and visible, even conspicuous from a distance. The implication is that Yahweh's shelter for His people is not invisible and can be clearly seen by the nations. "Shouts of joy"--Yahweh's command is to rejoice during the Feast. This Psalm tells us what Israel was to rejoice about. Victory! Verses 16-18 admit the victory was Yahweh's doing, not theirs. Verses 19-21: "Open the gates of righteousness." Literally "Open the way into the kingdom of righteousness." If gate is a symbol of way in verse 19, then gate means way in verse 20 and the phrase "the gate of Yahweh" means "the way of Yahweh." The way of Yahweh must refer to more than merely keeping the Feast that symbolizes the Kingdom. The phrase "the way of Yahweh" most likely means "the covenant way with Yahweh" which requires belief as well as obedience with faith to all covenant law. The ancients failed to understand the obedience with faith requirement. To them, the requirement was belief and obedience, period.
Verses 22-23: These verses refer allegorically to Yahweh's Messiah who will establish the Kingdom symbolized by the Feast. Yahshua quoted verse 22 to the priests and elders, Matthew 21:42, and told them that the Kingdom of Yahweh would be taken from them and given to a people who would produce its fruits. No further proof is needed. The verses refer metaphorically to the Messiah and the Kingdom of righteousness which is the spiritual theme of Psalm 118 and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Verses 24: The Hebrew word "yowm" (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #311& pronounced "yom" literally means a day from one sunset to the next sunset. But figuratively "yowm" means a period of time such as an age or seven days as in the Feast. The Hebrew expression "Yom Kippur" translated "Day of Atonement," could be "Time of Covering."
Verse 24 would be more accurately understood if the word "yowm," in reference to seven days, had been translated "time" and the verse read: This is a time Yahweh has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Verse 26-27 & Matthew 21:8-9:"Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh" and "Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest!" It was the shouting of these words and the cutting of branches of trees to spread in Yahshua's path during His entry into Jerusalem that infuriated the scribes and Pharisees. The words and actions were from or reflected solemn religious services conducted during the Feast of Tabernacles and were tantamount to proclaiming Yahshua to be the expected Messiah.
Many people realize the truth of this, but few have any idea the words and actions are related to the Feast of Tabernacles or why they should be so maddening to the scribes and Pharisees who understood the Feast to be more than a mere harvest festival.
The word "save" in Psalm 118:8 is translated from "yasha" (Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #3467). Adding "na" to "yahsa" results in "yashana" which means "save now." Hosanna is Greek for Yashana and "Hosanna to the Son of David" really means "Save us now, Son of David."
Israel commemorated the conquest of Jericho in a ritual performed each year during the Feast of Tabernacles. To this day, Jews perform a modified form of this ritual during the Feast in a ceremony that culminates in the seventh day in a ritual called "Hoshana Rabbah." Hoshana is modern Hebrew for yashana and rabbah, is a title, similar to rabbi, used in veneration of a priest, prophet or king believed to be endued with divine authority.
The reason the fall of Jericho is commemorated during the Feast is that the city's fall marked the entry of Israel into the Promised Lane. Israelites may not have realized it, but the fall of Jericho is a type/picture of the fall of that great city Babylon that will occur as Yahweh's people enter the Kingdom. Jericho's fall is recounted in Joshua 6:1-21. Each day for six days the Israelites marched once around the city, but on the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times. At the end of the seventh round they shouted and the walls collapsed. Each day for six days during the Feast of Tabernacles Israelites marched once around the altar carrying palm branches in the right hand which symbolized victory and a citron in the left hand which symbolized the fruit of trees. On the seventh day of the Feast they marched around the altar seven times then shouted "yashana rabbah."
Jews still enact this ritual during the Feast and they still carry palm branches and citrons in their hands, but since the destruction of the temple and altar, they now march around a person holding the scrolls of the law.
With this bit of knowledge of the ritual that ends with Hoshana Rabbah, the sentence, "With boughs in hand, join the festal procession up to the horns of the altar," Psalm 118:27 changes from a meaningful puzzle to an invitation to join in the Messiah's victory.
Verses 28-29: Psalm 118 ends with these two verses which acknowledge Elohim and thank Him for enduring love.
Some other Psalm or portion of a Psalm, may be read during services at the Feast of Tabernacles if what is read is appropriate to the theme of the service or the Feast. Reading some Psalm merely because Psalm reading seems to be the right thing to do rather than because its message is pertinent is neither enlightening or uplifting.
Preaching became a major component of new covenant religious services after the temple rituals and priestly functions were eliminated with the change in the temple and priesthood. Singing, music, prayers and Psalm reading are mood-setting warm-ups for the preacher. It is not that there are no services without preaching; it's just that there are no major religious services which are considered complete without preaching. Sermons and sermonettes should be exposition so Yahweh's Word with a theme appropriate to the occasion. Preaching doctrines of men is vain worship a true man of El will studiously avoid at all times, but especially when the whole congregation has come together for services at the Feast of Tabernacles.
Yahshua said, "And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come," Matthew 24:14. The gospel of men about salvation in the name of a Grecian christos has been preached to the world, but the Good News of Yahweh's coming Kingdom and salvation in the Name of an Israelite Messiah has seldom been mentioned outside Jewish Feast of Tabernacles services. That Good News has been hidden with the Jews since the days of the Roman emperor, Constantine, who died in 337 C.E. Is there a better time to demonstrate rejoicing in the knowledge of the truth than during Yahweh's commanded feasts? Is there a better way to demonstrate to the world the power of Yahweh to fulfill promises of blessings upon people who obey Him and assemble for the Feast? Will a preacher ever have a better opportunity to speak to people more willing to listen and obey truth than people assembled for the Feast?
Expository preaching upon any subject derived from and supported by Scriptures is not out of place during Feast of Tabernacles services. However, the prophets and the apostles said more about the Kingdom of Yahweh than about any other subject. Hence it seems only logical that most preaching at the Feast would be upon subjects related to the Feast or something Yahweh wants His people to know about the Feast.
Additional Thoughts Relative to the Feast of Tabernacles
All nations will keep the Feast during the Messiah's millennial reign, not just Jews. This prophecy in Zechariah 14:1-9 should probably be read each year at the Feast.
We are comfortable and feel secure dwelling in well built, permanent houses. Temporary dwellings are to remind us that it is not our power and strength that produced the wealth we have, Deuteronomy 8:17-18.
"Yahweh will bless your harvest and all the work of your hands and your joy will be complete," Deuteronomy 16:15. The Feast of Tabernacles is a seven day period of rest from labors in a field where the ground has been cursed, Genesis 5:29. And the field is in an environment of sickness, pain and death, Revelation 21:4. In addition to the incentive to rejoice in a rest from labor, the Feast is a foretaste of the time when Yahweh will swallow up death and wipe away the tears from all faces, Isaiah 25:8.
The Feast is a time to rejoice in the knowledge and certainty of Yahweh's promise to help His people in a time of need, Hebrews 4:16.
The Feast is a time to rejoice in the knowledge and certainty that Yahweh's Kingdom will become a reality here on earth and is not a fantasy about a mythical land with golden streets somewhere way beyond the blue.
We can rejoice in the knowledge and certainty that people who obey Yahweh and keep his feasts will be found ready when the King comes to claim His Kingdon.
The fact that the Feast of Tabernacles is a foretaste of Yahweh's rest as well as symbolic of the millennial Kingdom can be verified by comparing a few scriptures such as: "...no one can enter the Kingdom of Yahweh until...," John 3:5. "...they shall never enter my rest," Hebrews 3:11. "Make every effort to enter that rest," Hebrews 4:11.
Yahweh's Kingdom and Yahweh's rest are synonymous statements. The fact that the Feast is celebrated after the fall harvest at the end of the year, Exodus 23:16, freed the people from the need to even think about returning to the fields until next year.
A brief look into the significance of some numbers proves the Feast is symbolic of complete rest as well as the Kingdom.
There are eight commandments in Leviticus 23 to rest from labor on appointed days. They are:
Leviticus 23:3: The seventh day Sabbath.
Leviticus 23:7: First day of the Feast of Unleavened bread.
Leviticus 23:8: Seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened bread.
Leviticus 23:21: Feast of Weeks - Feast of Firstfruits.
Leviticus 23:24-25: Feast of Trumpets.
Leviticus 23:28: Day of Atonement
Leviticus 23:35: First day of the Feast of Tabernacles (lasts seven days).
Leviticus 23:39: Last Great Day.
Celebration of the Feast is to begin on the fifteenth (15th) day of the seventh (7th) month and last seven days. The number 7 always denotes spiritual perfection or completeness in Yahweh's Word. For example: Revelation 4:5 speaks of the seen spirits of Yahweh--spiritual perfection! Revelation 10:7 says the mystery of Yahweh is finished when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet. Yahweh's mystery is completed. Yahweh rested on the seventh day because His creation of heaven and earth was completed, Genesis 2:1-2. Seven days in the 7th month symbolize a Kingdom that will come after Yahweh's mystery is completed, Revelation 11:15).
The number fifteen (15) is associated with the rest that the redeemed receive in salvation through the Messiah. The association of 15 with rest through salvation is not as obvious as 7 with completeness. There are two days, the 15th of the first month and the 15th of the seventh month, on which believers are commanded to rest. The rest that comes with salvation will be given to the believer who obeys the command.
Eight is the number associated with a new beginning,. The Last Great Day symbolizes the judgment and beginning of Yahweh's eternal spiritual Kingdom. There are seven commands to rest in the Old prior to the command to rest in the New. Seven plus eight equals fifteen--the number for rest that comes with salvation.
That all nations would keep the Feast of Tabernacles during the Kingdom Age has been mentioned, Zechariah 14:18. So also was the fact that the prophets said more about the Kingdom than any other subject. Taking a little of what the prophets said from here and a little from there and putting the prophecies together results in an astounding word-picture of the Kingdom Age. (All quotations from the New International Version.)
"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the tress of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before Yahweh, for he cones, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth," Psalm 96:11-13.
"In that day the Branch of Yahweh will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. Yahweh will wash away the filth of the women of Zion, he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire," Isaiah 4:2-4.
"Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of Yahweh Almighty will accomplish this," Isaiah 9:7.
"On this mountain Yahweh Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Master will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. Yahweh has spoken" Isaiah 25:6-8.
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for Yahweh's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed," Isaiah 55:12-13.
"...to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Our fathers possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good.' Do men make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods! Therefore I will teach them--this time I will teach them my power and my might. Then they will know that my name is Yahweh," Jeremiah 16:19-21.
"No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know Yahweh,' because they will know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares Yahweh," Jeremiah 31:34.
"...never again will my people be shamed. And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days," Joel 2:27-29.
"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea," Habakkuk 2:14.
"Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of Yahweh and serve him shoulder to shoulder," Zephaniah 3:9.
"Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! Yahweh has taken away your punishment. He has turned back your enemy. Yahweh, the king of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm," Zephaniah 3:14-15.
Is it any wonder that Jews rejoice during the Feast of Tabernacles? They know that they are descendants of Israelites to whom the law was given and the promises were made. They rejoice because they are convinced that when the Messiah comes these prophecies will be fulfilled in them. The Jews look for a man who will have the power when he comes to set up Yahweh's Kingdom NOW! To them, that Galilean Jew, who claimed to the be the Messiah, was not only from the wrong town, but didn't even have the power to save himself, let alone all Israel.
Because the Jews reject the man from Nazareth, they also reject the Good News about him and the apostles' testimony about him and the new covenant he mediated with the Holy One of Israel. The Jews of today either do not know or do not believe the Kingdom of Heaven has been taken away from them and given to a people who will produce the spiritual fruit of it, Matthew 21:43.
Who can those people be if not people who believe Yahshua is the Messiah and who turn to obey all new covenant law in spirit and truth? These people have a greater reason to rejoice in the Feast than Jews because they know that the Messiah is greater than a mortal man. He will not only have power to set up the Kingdom, but to raise true worshippers from the dead if need be. Besides, He has not only promised to put His followers in the Kingdom, but to make them rulers with Him as well, Revelation 20:4-6.
Click here to test your knowledge.
May Yahweh bless you and help you in all your learning endeavors!