Feast of Tabernacles <br>(Sukkot)

Feast of Tabernacles

Sukkot (Soo-KOTE or SOO-kote) is the last great feast day in the fall season.” It is a week-long jubilant festival that celebrates the fall harvest and a time to build booths. This joyous celebration serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and protection.

The traditional Jewish calendar is based on a lunisolar calendar, with 354 days. This means that while Jewish holidays are observed on the same date every year according to the Jewish calendar, these dates vary on the Gregorian calendar. The celebration of this date falls somewhere between the second week of September through the End of October.

Follow the link for future dates of this Feast Day: https://www.infoplease.com/calendars/holidays/jewish-holidays

The Lord’s Commandment

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.”  

Leviticus 23:35-36

“You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Leviticus 23:42-43

Biblical Celebration

Every biblical holy day given to the Jewish people points to a remembrance of God’s faithfulness, and Sukkot is no exception. It serves as a reminder to Israel that they once dwelled in makeshift structures during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The Sinai desert was an extremely harsh environment, with little water or food, yet during that time, God was faithful to provide water, manna, quail, and every other thing they needed to sustain them in the barren country.

Sukkot was one of the three pilgrimages where every able-bodied person was required to go to Jerusalem for the celebration of this fall harvest festival. Each family brought the necessary elements needed to erect small temporary shelters (booths) where they would sleep and eat their meals. They would spend a total of eight days together in the city, worshipping, making sacrifices, and rejoicing in the Lord.

Jewish Customs

A Joyous Celebration

Sukkot is one of the most joyous and festive times of the year in Israel. Some people begin planning for this celebration as early as Rosh Hashanah. The tell-tale sign that the holiday is underway is the spotting of small structures or “booths” being built outside Jewish homes. This temporary dwelling is called a “sukkah” in Hebrew, hence the festival’s Hebrew name: Sukkot (plural of sukkah).

It is common for Israelis to share gifts and food baskets with their friends and family during the Feast of Tabernacles. Families gather in their “sukkots” to enjoy meals and rejoice for the Lord’s provision, often inviting friends and even Gentiles to join in their celebration of this festive time.

Building Sukkots

It is Jewish custom to begin building the sukkah (booth) immediately after the conclusion of Yom Kippur, although some begin sooner. There are many ways to build a sukkah but certain guidelines must be met in each structure. The roof must be made from natural elements that have grown from the ground. Most people use either palm fronds or bamboo with wooden beams as support. It is also important that the roof is thin enough to let the stars shine through so they can look up and see the heavens.

Once the sukkah is built, it is customary to decorate it as beautifully as possible. Typical decorations include hanging real or plastic fruit and other produce, depicting the theme of the harvest season. Strings of colorful lights are then draped around the structure to finish the festive theme.

Blessing the Holiday

“On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” 

Leviticus 23:40

Along with building booths, the Jewish people prepare a special bouquet of four plants to wave before the Lord called a Lulav.  Each element holds a very symbolic meaning. Binding the four elements together, the Jewish people wave it in all four directions (north, south, east, and west) and up and down to symbolize that God’s presence is everywhere.

In the Jewish synagogues, people often read from the Book of Zechariah, especially chapter 14 which foreshadows the return of the Messiah and His saints. It speaks of the Messiah’s reign, God’s exaltation of Jerusalem, overcoming Israel’s enemies, and all nations pilgrimaging to God’s Holy City for Sukkot. 

The Water Pouring Ceremony

Sukkot marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel. Rain was vital for the fall harvest and needed to be just the right amount: sufficient for the flourishing of the crop, but not too excessive to cause flooding. To signify the importance of rain and for the gratitude of receiving it, there is a little-known celebration during Sukkot called Simchat Beit Hashueva, (Rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing). This ceremony originated thousands of years ago when the Temple in Jerusalem stood. An offering of water was poured onto the altar of the Temple. The pouring was celebrated every evening during the intermediate days of Sukkot. Lights illuminated the area of the Temple, and festive singing, and dancing filled the atmosphere.

Water is life to the people of Israel. Water symbolizes rebirth, starting anew and spiritual cleansing. According to traditional Judaism, Sukkot is the time of year in which God judges the world for rainfall; therefore, praying for rain was essential not only for the harvest but also for the sake of God’s judgment.

Jesus – The Living Waters

The Apostle John calls the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles “the greatest day.” It is no coincidence that on this day, likely during the water ceremony, Yeshua (Jesus) stood on the Temple Mount to tell His brothers and sisters that He can give them living water: “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.'” John 7:37-38

By referring to himself as the source of “living water,” Jesus proclaimed His divinity—He is the “fountain of living waters.” Only those who accept Him as the one sent from God to save mankind can be baptized and receive the cleansing or rebirth through the Holy Ghost, which is necessary for them to return to God (see John 3:5).

The message of the Feast of Tabernacles is one of the future – the second coming of Messiah It symbolizes prophecy Yeshua’s return to earth to “tabernacle” or dwell with those who know Him. When the Messiah comes, He will collect the harvest for the Father’s Kingdom. Sukkot represents the final harvest when all nations will share in the joy and blessings of God’s kingdom. During that time, all believers will celebrate this feast together. (Zech:16-19)

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

Revelation 21:3

With your help, we can continue bringing the Gospel to the Lost Sheep of Israel. It is our calling as Believers to reveal the message of Yeshua to God’s chosen people, blessing all Israelis with the Good News of Salvation! Partner with VOJI to plant seeds today for the great harvest of tomorrow!

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