The Feast of Tabernacles.

Five days after the Day of Atonement, we come to the Feast of Tabernacles, which is also called the Feast of  Temporary Shelters (or booths), and the Feast of Ingathering - because it always comes after the harvest has been gathered into storage. For the Feast to fit "into its season" it has to come after the NH Autumn equinox, which means that most of the Summer harvesting has been done. The perfect time to sit back and relax a bit.

The Feast lasts for seven days, and then has the last Holy day for the year (the Last Great Day) on the eight day. The last Holy Day will be covered in a separate article.

Start in Levicitus 23.

When we talk about God's Holy Days, the foundational points are to be found in Lev 23.

Lev 23:33-36 NET.  The LORD spoke to Moses:  (34)  "Tell the Israelites, 'On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Temporary Shelters for seven days to the LORD.  (35)  On the first day is a holy assembly; you must do no regular work.  (36)  For seven days you must present a gift to the LORD. On the eighth day there is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must present a gift to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly day; you must not do any regular work.

The two main points we have here are that it is to last for seven days, and it involves Temporary Shelters. This  is explained further on.

Lev 23:39-43 NET.  " 'On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the produce of the land, you must celebrate a pilgrim festival of the LORD for seven days. On the first day is a complete rest and on the eighth day is complete rest.

The "eighth day", while often grouped in with the Feast of Tabernacles, is a separate Holy Day, and rounds out the plan of God.

 (40)  On the first day you must take for yourselves branches from majestic trees — palm branches, branches of leafy trees, and willows of the brook — and you must rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.

Unfortunately the Israelites were good at letting their own ideas override the instructions from God. There are two distinct instructions from God. The first, from v42, 43, is to live in tents (or some sort of temporary living quarters that reflect this), and the second is to take indoors foliage from trees and shrubs to give the inside a celebration atmosphere. Remember, in the Northern hemisphere this would be happening in Autumn. In the Southern Hemisphere we can use flowers as well as greenery.

The Jewish tradition of building "dwellings" out of branches is - I believe - a corruption of the original two instructions. As best as I can see, with most of the Exodus being in the wilderness, they did not have trees to cut down to make shelters.

 (41)  You must celebrate it as a pilgrim festival to the LORD for seven days in the year. This is a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you must celebrate it in the seventh month.  (42)  You must live in temporary shelters for seven days; every native citizen in Israel must live in temporary shelters,  (43)  so that your future generations may know that I made the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.' "

Verse 43 is a key verse if we want to understand the main message we are to get from the Feast of Tabernacles.

What is the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles?

Each Holy Day that God outlines in Lev 23, covers a key point in the plan of God - His "logos".

The Holy Day before the Feast of Tabernacles - the Day of Atonement - covers the placing of Satan in a place of restraint so that God and Christ can set up the Kingdom of God. Thus, as we shall see, the Feast of Tabernacles highlights the next part of the plan, and that is the rule of God and Christ for 1,000 years.

Lev 23:43 says that we keep the Feast of Tabernacles (FoT) to be reminded of the time God brought Israel out of Egypt.

What happened during the 40 year Exodus?

First up - we notice that God is in charge of everything.

He told them when to walk (Ex 40:36), and when to make camp (Num 9:17,18), and where to go (Deut 1:33).

This is a type of God and Christ ruling (and therefore in charge) during the 1000 year Kingdom of God.

Isa 11:9 NKJV  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.

At last human nature will be restrained.

It won't be removed, and people will still have to fight it, but the terrible results of unrestrained human nature - such as murder, rape, adultery, stealing and lying - will have limits put on them. As we can see from v9 above, all people will know about God's Laws, and therefore also about our human/carnal nature that wants to break them, so people will be able to step in and nip sin "in the bud" so to speak.

This concept, of God being in charge and making sure everyone knows about His plan, is in total contrast to the situation we have today. Very few people keep God's Holy Days, and therefore very few people understand the seven points that make up God's "grand design". Most of the people in the world today that call themselves "Christian" are still ignorant about many of the major points about "the knowledge of the Lord".

The 40 years of Israel moving from bondage in Egypt, to the promised land, is only a small type of what the millennium is going to be. Sure, they had knowledge of God from Moses and the Levitical priesthood, but their hearts were hardened - and they just did not "get it".

Deu 31:27 NET.  for I know about your rebellion and stubbornness. Indeed, even while I have been living among you to this very day, you have rebelled against the LORD; you will be even more rebellious after my death!

This rebellious spirit was not what God wanted.

Deu 5:29 NKJV  Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!

So this will be one of the major changes when what the FoT pictures becomes a reality.

Isa 57:18-19 NET.  I have seen their behavior,
    but I will heal them and give them rest,
    and I will once again console those who mourn. 
(19)  I am the one who gives them reason to celebrate.
    Complete prosperity is available both to those who are far away and those who are nearby,"
    says the LORD, "and I will heal them.

People in the World Tomorrow - during the 1000 year reign of God and Christ - will be given a different attitude to what the Israelites had during the Exodus. By living in temporary shelters to remind us of the Exodus, and reading about the people's behaviour during the Exodus, we - hopefully - come to better understand, and be accepting of, the need for God to be in charge.

Second - God supplied their food - the "manna".

During the 1000 year reign of God, He will change the weather pattens so that the "desert will bloom like a lily".

Isa 35:1 NET.  Let the desert and dry region be happy;
    let the wilderness rejoice and bloom like a lily!

Isa 35:6 NET.  Then the lame will leap like a deer,
    the mute tongue will shout for joy;
    for water will flow in the desert,
    streams in the wilderness.

God will again supply the food needs of the people - and give it in abundance.

Amo 9:13-15 NET.  "Be sure of this, the time is coming," says the LORD,
    "when the plowman will catch up to the reaper
    and the one who stomps the grapes will overtake the planter.
    Juice will run down the slopes,
    it will flow down all the hillsides. 
(14)  I will bring back my people, Israel;

    they will rebuild the cities lying in rubble and settle down.
    They will plant vineyards and drink the wine they produce;
    they will grow orchards and eat the fruit they produce. 
(15)  I will plant them on their land

    and they will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them,"
    says the LORD your God.

The crops will produce so much that they will have trouble harvesting it all before it is time to plow again.

The manna supplied by God during the Exodus is only  a small type of the food supplied by God during the 1000 year Kingdom of God. - but it is a type. By looking back to the time Israel "dwelt in tents" we can better understand why it is much better for God to be involved in supplying our food, rather than the chemical companies people look to today.

Giving the land a rest every seven years has a far greater impact than people realize - plus the blessings that come from God because the land is cared for.

Third - the reason they were going to the "promised land", was because God wanted them to set up a kingdom of such a high standard that people would look to them for leadership, and as an example to follow.

Exo 19:5-6 NET.  And now, if you will diligently listen to me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine,  (6)  and you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites."

Priests were there to instruct the people.

Mal 2:7 NET.  For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge of sacred things, and people should seek instruction from him because he is the messenger of the LORD who rules over all.

So a "kingdom of priests" implies that every one in that Kingdom, is capable of passing on knowledge of God.

This , of course, is a direct type of how it will be in the World Tomorrow. Every one will know God, will know of His plan for mankind, and will know what they must do to qualify for conversion from the physical to the spiritual.

Joh 3:6 NET.  What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Yes - every one should be seeking to be born of the spirit. To want to have eternal life and live forever.

No wonder we are told to rejoice during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Dwelling in "tents" or temporary dwellings.

Perhaps a word about the instruction to dwell in tents.

Originally it applied to native Israelites - those who's ancestors did actually dwell in those tents - but it can also be applied to us today. Living in a motel or rented house is, for us, a temporary dwelling. However, if we are not "cashed up" - and thus not able to travel and rent a temporary dwelling - we can still observe the Feast within our gates.

Deu 12:21 NKJV  If the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter from your herd and from your flock which the LORD has given you, just as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your gates as much as your heart desires.

 Notice, the instruction to eat from our own flocks, indicates that if we stay at home, we don't get to spend our second tithe. I feel we are expected to save our second tithe, so that one day we will have enough to travel to the Feast. Having experienced both, I feel it is special to be able to "take a holiday" approach to the FoT.

A time to look out for others.

Notice the list of people we are to take care of during the Feast.
Deu 16:13-15 NET.  You must celebrate the Festival of Temporary Shelters for seven days, at the time of the grain and grape harvest.  (14)  You are to rejoice in your festival, you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows who are in your villages.  (15)  You are to celebrate the festival seven days before the LORD your God in the place he chooses, for he will bless you in all your productivity and in whatever you do; so you will indeed rejoice!

So do your best to include everyone.


God has set aside a seven day Feast, to give us time to look back at what He was trying to start with the Exodus, and then multiply it many times over to get some idea of how great it is going to be during the Millennium - the 1000 year rule of God on earth.

Bob Orchard October 2012

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