what is the feast of tabernacles (sukkoth) in the bible
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By Melissa McLaughlin

The Feast of Tabernacles is the last of three fall feasts appointed and initiated by God in the Old Testament. The Feast (or Festival) of Tabernacles is also referred to as: The Feast of Booths / Ingathering / Shelters or in Hebrew “Sukkot”.

The word Sukkot is the plural form of “sukkah” which means dwelling, booth or tabernacle. During The Feast of Tabernacles, the Israelites build temporary booths or huts to dwell in, as a remembrance of God’s provision for them during their 40 years in the wilderness and our continued dependence upon Him through the ages.

The Fall Feast Days

The fall Feast Days set forth by God come in quick succession. On the 1st day of the seventh month of the Hebrew civil calendar, called Tishri, The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) begins with repentance before the Lord. On the 10th day of Tishri, The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is held. This is the tenth and final day of repentance and asking the Lord for forgiveness of sins.

The Feast of Tabernacles begins on the 15th day of Tishri, around the time of the fall harvest in late September-October. It begins with a day of Sabbath rest, continues for 7 days and is then followed by another Sabbath rest on the 8th day.

The Feast of Tabernacles

The Feast of Tabernacles is the most joyous of all the fall feasts. It is one of three Biblical pilgrim feasts, when Jewish males were directed to appear before the Lord. This meant the people traveled to Jerusalem to build and dwell in their booths. In addition, they brought tithes and offerings from their fall harvest to present to the Lord at the Temple.

God established The Feast of Tabernacles in: Exodus 23:14-17, Exodus 34:21-23, Leviticus 23:33-44, Numbers 29:12-40, Deuteronomy 16:13-17.

God Dwells With Us

Incredibly, the seven Biblical feasts all point to Christ and The Feast of Tabernacles is no exception. The apostle John wrote these words in John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

The meaning of the word “dwelt” used in this verse is also understood as tabernacle, which means to “dwell in a tent”.

When God first dwelt with His people in Exodus, the Presence of God resided in the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle consisted of a carefully God-designed tent that could travel with the people as they journeyed through the wilderness. When Jesus arrived to dwell with us, He came clothed in a human tent.

When Jesus returns for His second and final coming, He will dwell with His people forever. Revelation 21:1-3 We will shed our human tents and take on our divinely forgiven and resurrected bodies.  2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Therefore, as we consider The Feast of Tabernacles, we look back and remember God’s provision and Presence among us through the centuries. Stunningly, at the same time, we also look forward to His coming again to dwell with us forever!

The seven feasts of the LORD, listed in Leviticus 23, foreshadow Christ with incredible prophetic power.

Seven Feasts of the LORD

The Spring Feast Days

The Passover (Leviticus 23:5) – Jesus died on the cross on this day. He was the sacrificial Lamb whose blood covered the wooden posts on the cross, that our sins would be atoned for and the wages for sin, which is death, would pass over us. 1 Corinthians 5:7  Romans 6:23

The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6) – This begins the first night of Passover and continues for seven days. God’s people do not eat anything with leaven, remembering their delivery from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and quick exodus that did not allow for bread to rise. Additionally, leaven is often a Biblical symbol for sin. We remember that likewise, Jesus, our sinless Savior, delivered us from the bondage of slavery to sin. We symbolically eat of His body when we celebrate communion, as He commanded at the Last Supper. 1 Corinthians 11:23-25  

The Feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:10) – Jewish believers celebrate The Feast of First Fruits the Sunday after Passover, commemorating the day Jesus arose from the grave, His resurrected body, the first fruit of the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 15:20

The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost  (Leviticus 23:16) – This is held fifty days after Passover and pointed ahead to the great harvest of souls. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers and the church was initiated on this day. Acts 2

Clearly, at Jesus’ first coming, He fulfilled His purposes aligned with these appointed Feast Days, on the literal dates of the spring feasts. Therefore, many believe Jesus’ second coming will coincide once again with the fall feasts. Though Jesus made it clear, no one would know the day or hour of His return, it certainly makes one wonder.

The Fall Feast Days

The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) (Leviticus 23:24) –  This begins on the 1st day of Tishri. It foreshadows Christ’s gathering up of His church (rapture) that scripture declares will be announced with a trumpet sound. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  1 Corinthians 15:52

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) (Leviticus 23:27) – This falls 10 days after The Feast of Trumpets. Many believe this symbolizes Christ’s return where He will judge the earth and the remnant of Israel will recognize Him as Messiah, repent and be saved. Zechariah 12:10 Romans 11:1-6, 25-36

The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) (Leviticus 23:34) – Many regard this Feast as a prophecy of the day the Lord Jesus will dwell with His people and reign forever in a new heaven and new earth. Micah 4:1-7

What does this mean for Christians today?

Some Jewish and Gentile Christians do celebrate these feast days. Many Gentile Christians do not, as we consider Jesus the substance of the shadows that were cast toward Him in the Old Testament. Colossians 2:16-17

However, we can all remember and symbolically observe these sacred days, as our faith is strengthened by deepening our understanding of the breathtaking precision with which our Savior fulfilled each Old Testament prophecy.  From this, we can rest in absolute assurance that Jesus will once again fulfill every prophecy of His second coming with the same astonishing accuracy and glory. And we will dwell with our Savior and King forever!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  Revelation 21:1-3

Additional Resources:

This year The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) will be from sundown, October 2nd to sundown, October 9th,. To read more information about Feast Days and dates, check out the Messianic Sabbath website.

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