Tabernacles: The Seventh Feast of the Lord
By Randy Nettles
The Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot, is the last of the seven Feasts of the Lord and the most joyous. It occurs on the 15th day of Tishri and lasts for eight days. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘feast of booths” or ‘feast of ingathering’. The word ingathering is in reference more to people than crops, as the wheat and most of the fruit has already been harvested by this time of the year. The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the three feasts that all Jewish men were required to attend in Jerusalem every year. The other two are the Feast of Unleavened Bread (combined with Passover), and Pentecost. This year, Sukkot begins on October 13, 2019, and ends on October 21, 2019.
During this celebration, the people were to live in booths for 7 days that were made of sticks or branches in remembrance of when their ancestors lived in the wilderness for 40 years and God supernaturally protected them and provided for all of their needs. The day after the 7th day (the 8th day) is designated as a “solemn assembly” for the children of Israel.
Not only did the children of Israel dwell in tents during the 40 years in the wilderness, but God did as well. God’s shekhinah glory dwelt in the Tabernacle of Moses during the wilderness years of the nation of Israel. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34-35).
The purpose of this feast is recorded in Leviticus 23, verses 33-34 and verses 42-43: “And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, the fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord… You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
It is noteworthy that on each of the 7 days of Tabernacles, they were to offer 14 (7×2) lambs without blemish (Numbers 29:15,32). There is an interesting parallel in the ‘Gospel of Matthew where he lists the genealogy of Jesus, the Lamb of God. The generations from Abraham to David are fourteen, from David to the Babylonian captivity are fourteen, and from the captivity to Christ are fourteen. Matthew traced the genealogy back to Abraham and divides Israel’s history into 3 sets of 14 generations. However, there were probably more than those listed here. Genealogies often compressed history and not every generation of ancestors was specifically listed, especially if they were evil. The Old Testament genealogies are much more precise such as in 1 Chronicles chapters 1-9.
The dedication of King Solomon’s Temple occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles in the year 959 BC. “Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim (Tishri), which is the seventh month” (1 Kings 8:1-2).
“And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord. And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:62-63).
“And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days. On the eighth day (15th day) he sent the people away, and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people” (1 Kings 8:65-66).
This was the greatest celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles ever. It even lasted a week longer than was required. Notice in verse 2, that all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the king at this time. The event that this foreshadows is when King Jesus will return to Israel during the Feast of Trumpets, and then 15 days later, during Sukkot, He will assemble all the children of Israel (and Gentile believers) that survive the Tribulation to inaugurate his Millennium Kingdom on earth. This specific Feast of Tabernacles will be the ultimate fulfillment of the 7th Feast of the Lord.
Although there is no clear, scriptural proof of the exact date of the birth of Christ, John’s gospel uses the unusual word ‘tabernacled’ to describe the birth of Christ, suggesting, possibly, that he was born on the feast of Tabernacles. “The Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us” (John 1:14). If Jesus was born on a Feast of Tabernacles, he would have been conceived 9 months earlier on approximately December 25. This is the date that we celebrate his birth…not his conception.
In the modern Gregorian calendar we label all years with B.C.(before the birth of Christ) or A.D. (anno domini or “in the year of our Lord”) There is no zero year. In our modern system, the year Christ was born is supposedly A.D.1 and the year preceding it was 1 B.C. The most favored view amongst Bible scholars is that Jesus was born in 5 B.C. We agree with this timeline due to Herod the Greats death occurring in 4 B.C. If Jesus was born in 5 B.C.(possibly on Tabernacles) then our current year should really be the year A.D. 2023 and not 2019.
Not only did the early Roman Catholic Church get the year of Jesus’ birth wrong but they got the month wrong as well. Some of the evidence that Jesus might have been born earlier in the year is the fact that it would be highly unlikely for shepherds to still be in the field with their sheep in December. This is in the middle of the winter and they wouldn’t be in the fields at this time of the year.
Six days after Jesus predicted his death the first time, Jesus told his disciples: “Verily I say unto you, There are some standing here, which shall not taste death, until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). Clearly this is a verse referring to the 2nd Coming of Jesus unto his Millennium Kingdom. The Feast of Tabernacles represents the beginning of this kingdom.
“And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into a high mountain apart from the others, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if you will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him” (Matthew 17:1-5).
Peter wanted to build three tabernacles or shrines for these three great men to show how the Feast of Tabernacles was fulfilled in the coming of God’s kingdom. “The transfiguration was a vision, a brief glimpse of the true glory of the King (16:27,28). This was a special revelation of Jesus’ divinity to three of the disciples, and it was God’s divine affirmation of everything Jesus had done and was about to do.
Moses and Elijah were two of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. Moses represents the Law. He wrote the Pentateuch, and he predicted the coming of a great Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). Elijah represents the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6). Moses’ and Elijah’s presence with Jesus confirms Jesus’ messianic mission – to fulfill God’s Law and the words of God’s prophets. Just as God’s voice in the cloud over Mount Sinai gave authority to his Law (Exodus 19:9). God’s voice at the transfiguration gave authority to Jesus’ words.”
The last Feast of Tabernacle that Jesus attended would have been on Tishri 15 – 23 in the year A.D.32. The exact dates would be October 6 – 14, AD 32. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, (But he spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:37-39).
Approximately six months later, Jesus would be crucified on a Roman cross during the Feast of Passover (the 1st Feast of the Lord) on March 31, AD 33 on our modern Gregorian calendar or April 2, 33 on the Julian calendar. The day of the week was Thursday. He was resurrected back to life 3 days later on the first day of the week, Sunday. It is referred to as Easter or Resurrection Sunday. Just as Jonah was 3 days in the belly of the whale, so was Jesus in the belly of the earth before God brought him back to life (per Matthew 12:40).
The Feast of Tabernacles occurs yearly on a full moon just as Passover does. Both of the dates above occurred on a full moon. They say bizarre things happen sometimes on a full moon. Two of the most significant events in history occurred on a full moon: Jesus’ crucifixion on Passover and Jesus’ inauguration of His Millennium Kingdom on a future Feast of Tabernacles day.
As mentioned before, all male Jews of legal age were to attend the three major Feasts of the Lord in Jerusalem. These three Feasts are Tabernacles, Passover, and Pentecost. If Jesus was born on Tabernacles, then each major event in the life of our Lord followed one of the three main feast days when it was required that all male Jews go to the Jerusalem Temple to worship the Lord. Jesus would have been born on the Feast of Tabernacles (15th of Tishri), would have been crucified on the Feast of Passover (14th of Nisan), and would have sent forth His promised Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to baptize His church with power on the Feast of Pentecost (7th of Sivan).
The Feast of Tabernacles will ultimately be fulfilled by the Lord Jesus when He establishes His millennial kingdom of peace on the earth. “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one… And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:9, 16).
The Feast of Tabernacles is the only Feast of the Lord still to be observed in the Millennium. “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whosoever will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if they come not, there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16-18).
Jesus came to earth the first time as a son of man in a body made of flesh. His soul and spirit resided for a short time in a primitive form of dwelling (or tabernacle), just as all human beings have from the time of Adam and Eve. He will return as the son of God in a spiritual body (or temple) that is made for eternity. Christians of all epochs will share in a similar type of spiritual body. However, only Jesus has a glorified body for he is God. This transformation of Christian believers will happen at the Rapture. Our bodies will all change from a mere tabernacle to a glorious new temple of God. The Tribulation saints and pre-Christ believers will get their resurrected bodies after the Feast of Tabernacles when Jesus’ 1000 year reign begins.
In Eternity, our previous place of residence on the old earth will seem like a simple tabernacle compared to our spacious mansions in the sky. Our many years of wanderings on the earth will finally be over and we will take up residence on the New Earth and the New Jerusalem. We will finally be home in our promised land with our saved loved ones, believers of all the ages, holy angels, and the Father, Holy Spirit, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.