The Modern Meaning of the Festival of Sukkot

Опубликовано в Sukkot

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Why is the festival of Sukkot relevant in our lives? To enter into the joy of God's tabernacle (or “booth”) we need to believe the Good News of Yeshua and take His commandments as the gold standard in our lives.  

Jesus said to the Jews that believed in Him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32). “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation" (Psalm 91:14-16).

God does not change! He is the same yesterday, today and forever!  His mercy is boundless, His love is unselfish and His salvation is full of grace.

From the days of Moses, when God brought the Israelites out of Egypt with great wonders and signs, the Jews, going from the festival to festival in joy and gladness, brought the sacrifice of praise and gratitude to the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness to His covenant. We enter into the feast of Sukkot in this same way; with booths made out of tree branches, giving Him thanks for the exodus in our lives, God’s unlimited love to us and His atoning sacrifice with which He has reconciled us to Himself.

The booth symbolizes God's covering. Coming under His covering (symbolized by the booth), we surrender to His mercy.  It’s as if each leaf on each branch of the booth whispers, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). There is hope for the future for every nation, tribe and even each and every person in this promise. Amongst the many leaves of the booth, there are leaves which symbolize not only believers but also those people for whom we pray; those who have not yet accepted the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua and who is yet deprived of the true joy of this celebration.

The second aspect of this holiday involves prophetic intercession for all of mankind and, of course, that begins with those who live in our hearts. For the Lord does not want the death of the sinner, but wants everyone to turn from their evil ways and to have eternal life. The Prophet Zechariah prophesied about this in the 6th century BC in Chapter 14 of his book in the Bible which relates to early apocalyptic literature, "On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness.  It will be a unique day — a day known only to the Lord — with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name...It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure" (Zechariah, 14:6-9,11).

Lord will strike the nations which fought against Jerusalem and still have not accepted the Good News. Those who fought against Jerusalem, but have believed and accepted the Word of God will be forgiven, "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 Festival of Tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:16).

This means that the feast of Sukkot, like God’s other feasts (Pesach/Passover, Shavuot/Pentecost, etc...), are relevant to the whole world, despite of ethnicity.

All who have accepted Yeshua as Lord and Savior by faith are entering into Sukkot, in God's “booth”, joining in the citizenship of Israel and being heirs to the covenants of promise, "Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace… For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household" (Ephesians 2:12-15,18,19).

Therefore, the Feast of Tabernacles is a festival for Jews and non-Jews, who rejoice are glad together as one God's nation where there are no divisions or barriers, "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:26-29).

As one family, we sit at the festive table filled with an abundance of fruits of the earth which God has blessed us with as in the days of the Temple when the people of Israel brought the fruit of the land, giving thanks to the Lord for the collection of the last harvest. This prophetic act symbolizes the "final harvest". Yeshua said about this, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field" (Matthew 9:36-38).

Let’s pay attention to the words of the last sentence, “into his harvest field". We are all "His harvest". And as with Passover, Yeshua was brought as the first sheaf of the harvest, on Sukkot we bring ourselves as the last sheaf of the harvest, "But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him" (1st Corinthians 15:23).

"Last Harvest" symbolizes "the last times"; the time of His (Yeshua’s) second coming. The time of His coming is near, for the last harvest has come, "I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested" (Revelation 14:14-16.).

The Feast of Sukkot is a special holiday. As the tabernacle is the image of Yeshua, this feast is not temporary (just a calendar feast), but it comes to us from eternity. This is God's feast, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies ..." (Leviticus 23: 2).

The word "feasts" in Hebrew has several meanings:

* The appointed time, the appointed term, a certain time;
* The scheduled meeting or gathering;
* Appointed place, a meeting place;
* Appointed signal or sign.

Synonyms in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) are the words «h/d[e» with a meaning: "gathering, society, group, crowd, host, swarm, flock, house, family." And also: «i]hfa» - «tent, tabernacle, cover, booth, dwelling." And again: 1) "ascend, rise, ladder”; 2) "hill, mountain".

We can draw the conclusion from this interpretation that God's holidays are appointed times of ascent for people under God’s covering to His dwelling place.

The Apostle John describes the Feast of Sukkot in the Book of Revelation where the Lord Himself is a tabernacle, "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 before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, “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 before the Lamb. They were wearing white robesand were holding palm branches in their hands" (Revelation 7:9,10).

“And they cried out in a loud voice Then I saw... the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God" (Revelation 21:2,3).

A tabernacle (Hebrew - "mishkan", Greek - "Skene", "dwelling place, habitation, and tent") is a portable sanctuary where the Lord dwelled from the time the Law was given to to Israelites on Mount Sinai  (Exodus 25:8). Only the priests could enter the tabernacle, and even then, only the High Priest and only once a year on Yom Kippur could they enter the curtain (Holy of Holies) where the Ark of the Covenant was.

This sanctuary is the image of Yeshua who is the High Priest of the New Covenant (Hebrews 7:16; 9:24). The tabernacle and the Body of the Messiah (His Church) have no permanent citizenship in the world and symbolize the final reconciliation of God with all of mankind.

The booth where the Lord asks us to celebrate this feast is a portable both that people used during the exodus out of Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. This booth (tent) was a temporary dwelling place. This is the image of us in this world and our shelter on the way to the new Promised Land, New Jerusalem. Because all of us are foreigners and strangers on earth (Hebrews 11:13-16).

So, the feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) is a true celebration of joy because the Lord Himself, rejoicing with His people, fills us with heavenly joy and grace.  The Lord Himself, rejoices with His people so much that even after seven days of the feast He still asks, "Please stay with me for one more day" ("Shemini Atzeret")!

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