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The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)


During the Feast of Tabernacles, God commands his people to build temporary shelters called “sukkot,” (literally “booths”) and to live in them for seven days. The primary theme of the feast is to help us remember that God wishes to dwell with us, and to teach us how He will do so. God’s presence and God’s kingdom go hand-in-hand, so this festival teaches us also about the establishment of God’s kingdom, evident largely in Zechariah 14.

The act of “tabernacling” reminds us of God’s promise to Abraham that He would be his God and the God of his descendants (which Biblically is often partnered with the idea that He will dwell, or tabernacle, with us). This is significant because we are Abraham’s heirs, and the salvation that Jesus provided is a fulfillment of that promise made to Abraham. The act of tabernacling also reminds us of the time that God tabernacled among the Israelites in the desert, and later in the Temple. Furthermore, the book of John tells us that the Word, Jesus, came and tabernacled among us. Eventually He sent the Holy Spirit to tabernacle in us, His temples. Finally, this act will find its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus returns and we will dwell in the Lord’s kingdom and His presence forever.

Furthermore, as a part of this feast, the priests would collect water from the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem to pour over a corner of the altar in a libation ceremony. As the people were singing, “With joy we will draw water out of the well of salvation (yeshua),” the gospel of John records that Jesus (Yeshua) cried out in a loud voice “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." Beyond the powerful application that teaches us of His life and cleansing, this statement powerfully equates Jesus and us to the Temple in Ezekiel’s vision, from which living water flows in Jesus' future kingdom.

As meaningful as these discussions are, there is much more depth to be discovered in these holidays and in the other commands in God’s instruction. It is no coincidence that God chooses certain days on which to do mighty acts, and then commands His followers to observe those days. He reveals Himself through those days and even allows us to imitate Him in many ways. Paul wrote to the Colossians (in a passage that is often badly translated) that God's Sabbaths and festivals are a shadow of the things that are to come and that teach us about the Messiah. May we be blessed by the divine Instruction and revelation that God has given us.

For more information on the feasts, click on this link to Edward Chumney's book, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah.