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Meditations on the Feast of Tabernacles

Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, lasts for seven days and is part of the High Holy Days season that begins with Rosh Hashanah (New Year). Like many Jewish feasts, Sukkot has a dual significance. The first is agricultural, as the tabernacles or booths remind us of how the farm laborers lived as they worked to bring in the harvest. That’s why this holiday is also called the Festival of Ingathering.

The second meaning of Sukkot is historical, as the holiday commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel wandered in the desert. In honor of the holiday’s historical significance, we are commanded to dwell in temporary shelters (called sukkot in Hebrew) as our ancestors did. Today, the commandment to “dwell” in a sukkah can be fulfilled by simply eating all of one’s meals there; however, if the weather, climate, and one’s health permit, one should live in the sukkah as much as possible, including sleeping in it.

We also find the Feast of Tabernacles mentioned in connection with the life and ministry of Yeshua (Jesus). On the last and greatest day of this feast, during the ceremony of the pouring of the water in the Temple, Yeshua stood up and boldly proclaimed to the celebrants, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38)

There is yet another significance of Sukkot – the temporary shelters remind us that we are not to think of ourselves as completely “at home” in this world. For centuries, the Jewish people needed no reminding that they had no permanent dwelling place in this world. Even now, with the reality of the State of Israel, we realize that as long as there is hatred, strife and other evidence of sin, humanity remains exiled from God until our final restoration. We look forward to the fulfillment of the prophetic promise to all of those who have placed their faith in Yeshua – “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24).

Written by Alan Shore


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