Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, begins on the 15th day of the seventh Scriptural month, and is a seven day long moed/appointed time. The first day is a day of rest, and there were sacrifices ordained for each of the seven days. Every seven years, the Torah was to be read publicly to the people, and it was to be a time of great rejoicing (actually commanded, Deut 16:14) because of the blessings and increase that YHWH had given His people. By this time of year, all the produce of the land would have been harvested and stored, so it was a real time of thanksgiving. (Interestingly, there is some evidence to suggest that the original Thanksgiving that the pilgrims had in America was a Sukkot celebration.)
During the seven days, the Israelites were instructed to cut down certain tree branches, including palm branches, for their celebrations and to dwell in a temporary dwelling called a sukkah – we traditionally call it a tabernacle or booth. The reason YHWH gave for having the people dwell in booths was to remind us that He made the Israelites dwell in booths when He brought them out of Egypt (Lev 23:43). You see, it’s not our dwelling that we find true protection in, but YHWH Himself.
We read in Nehemiah 8:13-18 that the forgotten observance of Sukkot was rediscovered when the words of the Torah were read to the people who had returned to Jerusalem after their Babylonian exile. “And there was very great gladness” in observing Sukkot that year! Amazingly, and sadly, Sukkot was not observed by the Israelites from the time of Joshua till that day.
It is very likely that Yeshua was born during this feast (possibly on the first day). Christmas time has never had serious evidence supporting His birth date! Interestingly, some translations say that Yeshua was made flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14). Remember that YHWH tabernacled amongst the Israelites in the wilderness too, with His presence filling the tabernacle in the midst of the camp. Also of interest is the probability that Yeshua’s transfiguration occurred during Sukkot. Peter wanted to build three booths for Yeshua, Moses and Elijah at that time.
There are certainly prophetic implications with Sukkot. In Zec 14:16-19, we read 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, YHWH of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles”. It talks about the punishment of no rain if any nation does not go up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot. Clearly, in my mind at least, this is a yet future time which I believe to be the millennial reign of Yeshua as King over the earth. Sukkot is a prophetic appointed time that symbolizes the millennial period, when Yeshua will come and tabernacle with us for a second time. He came the first time as a “suffering servant”, but He will come the second time as the “conquering King” who rules over the nations with a rod of iron (Rev 19:15).
When our family observes Sukkot, we set up our tents for sleeping in (often near our house, but sometimes in more remote locations). We decorate our home with palm and gum tree branches and some appropriate Scripture verses. We remember the birth of Yeshua and His future second coming, and try to go out to a nice restaurant for a meal together as a celebration (a real once-in-a-year event). It’s a time of rejoicing in all that YHWH has done for us in the past and for all the promises He has given for our future.
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