Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
"Three times in a year shall all the males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which He shall choose: in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty." - Deuteronomy 16:16
These were the three major feast days that God instituted for the children of Israel upon their deliverance from Egypt, that were to be observed every year. They were instituted as types in "celebration" of the great bounty that would be realized in the true deliverance of Israel by their coming Messiah. The feast of unleavened bread in the Passover week is well documented and readily understood by most Christians. It was a signification pointing to the sacrifice of Christ that was to come. In scripture, leaven is often used to symbolize sin or wickedness. When the Apostle Paul instructed us to purge out the old leaven that we become a new lump, he was talking about sin and wickedness. Thus by contrast, unleavened bread is illustrating righteousness and virtue. When a little leaven (yeast) is put in dough to make bread, it affects whole cake of dough. Likewise a little sin affects the whole human life. Unleavened bread signified that it was the bread that was without sin that would be used in our sacred celebration. This celebration and sacrifice was in remembrance of God passing over the houses of his children in Judgement on Egypt, as they were brought out of bondage. So the feast of unleavened bread signified that every trace of sin, the old "leaven" of the life in bondage, is removed from God's people.
"Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the Passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there.This feast was to be observed with the sacrifice of a Passover lamb in the season that Israel came out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:1,6), and it foreshadowed the true sacrifice that was to come. In other words, the festival signified that God's chosen people would be brought out of the bondage in spiritual Egypt, by their Passover Lamb, Christ. He would sacrifice Himself as the Lamb without blemish, and His body would be their unleavened or sinless bread. As Israel was set free from the rule of the wicked task master Pharaoh, so the Children of God are set free from subjugation in their bondage to the task master, Satan. Sin cannot be purged by the sacrifice of animals, nor can man be made right with God merely by eating unleavened bread. But these ceremonial laws prefigured the sacrifice of Christ, that thereby, the sons of God are delivered from captivity to Satan. This is why Christ had to be sacrificed precisely on the time Israel celebrated the Passover feast or festival. It was the season that the children of Israel were brought out of bondage to Egypt. Christ is the antitype, thus his broken body was the fulfillment of the type, which merely looked forward to this "true" deliverance. By His death, as a Passover sacrifice, the children of God are "passed over" in His judgement upon the wicked. All who eat of His body at this festival, and drink of the wine which is his blood (John 6:53), are delivered from bondage and brought out of spiritual Egypt. This is indeed what the Passover feast by Israel signified. It prefigured the loosing of the bonds of sin wherein the people served in fear, that they are set free from spiritual captivity.
Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life." -Deuteronomy 16:2-3
"That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped." -Exodus 12:27
"..that through death, He might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil,
and deliver them who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage." -Hebrews 2:14-15
Christ came to deliver Israel (the children of God) from Satan, who held them in spiritual bondage to sin. Spiritually speaking, He delivered them from captivity, and He did so by His death and resurrection.
"And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." -Revelation 11:8
This is not literally Egypt, but spiritually it is Egypt. We know Christ was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem, but it was spiritually Egypt because that is what Christ, by His death and resurrection, delivered Israel from. He brought His people out of the horrible place of Bondage, by the sacrifice of Himself. And thus the feast was fulfilled. Or to put it another way, the type that was the feast of unleavened bread, that the children of Israel observed, looked forward to this fulfillment or completion in Christ. And with its completion, the type (which was merely a shadow of the true) is not to be observed anymore. Which is why Christians today do not observe the Passover feast. Because that would be signifying that Christ has not yet come, and that we are still looking forward to His sacrifice on the cross. The real efficacy of Old Testament observance of the Passover feast, was accomplished in the sacrifice of Christ.
Likewise, the second of Israel's three annual feast days also looked forward to Christ. The celebration of [Hag Ha Shavout], or the feast of weeks, was a festival that also had its fulfillment in the sacrifice of Christ. His work of the cross accomplished, Jesus ascended to the Father, and the great bounty that this feast signified was brought to fruition. It was by efficacy of His broken body on the cross that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the world. And this occurred on the feast of weeks, which was the fulfillment of the Old Testament ceremony. The reason given for this celebration was the same as for the feast of Passover. There was to be this festival that the Children of Israel remember that they were once bondmen or slaves in Egypt, and were delivered by their God.
"And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the Lord thy God, according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:
And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to place his name there.
And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes". -Deuteronomy 16:10-12
Also called the feast of firstfruits, Pentecost is the name by which most Christians know this festival today. This is because the Greek word [pentekoste] means fifty. And this feast by law was to begin on the fiftieth day after the Passover Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15-16). This old testament celebration of firstfruits or weeks again parallels "exactly" its fulfillment or completion in Christ. By His death and resurrection He assured that the Holy Spirit would be poured out that all nations could be the firstfruits of the harvest, exactly at that time. We read in Acts 1:3 that after Christ was risen from the dead, He was seen of the Apostles forty days. Then He ascended into Heaven, and after ten days He sent the Holy Spirit. This occurred on the feast of firstfruits, exactly fifty days after the Passover Sabbath. And because of the Greek language, this is what we know as Pentecost. It was the fulfillment of the type, where the children of God received the Holy Spirit and became firstfruits of God. Thus they go forth and give as they have been Blessed to received. And this is what the feast or ceremony that Israel observed, signified. That a bounty would be harvested because of Christ.
Of course, we could go on considerably with significant examinations and attention to pertinent scripture passages concerning these two feasts, but they are not the scope of this particular study. It is indeed curious that so many theologians of the Church understand the "types" that are featured in the feast of the Passover and the feast of Firstfruits, but have little discernment about the third feast which was linked with these two to be observed annually. Many have said that we don't know what the third feast signifies, or that there is no need to even bother examining it. Some say it's pertaining to Israel, and to be fulfilled later. Still others claim that we can't understand it now, but we might understand it by and by. But are we to think that God placed the third feast there just to take up space? It would be biblical obfuscation to think anything but that Christ fulfilled the feast of Tabernacles the very same way that He has the feast of Passover and of Pentecost. All three of these linked feasts observed each year were fulfilled in Christ. There is "no" sacrifice feast of Israel, but that it points to the broken body of Christ. And the Biblical fact is, He was sacrificed just once, and that was at the cross. The festival pointed to His death. It cannot be a future event, for all of the Old Testament sacrifices were types of Christ, and thus were fulfilled in Christ. In partaking of Christ, we partake of the Passover feast, the Firstfruits feast, and the Tabernacle feast. It is in Him wherein we keep "all" these feasts forever, as explicitly required by God's Law. Those laws aren't done away with, they are fulfilled or completed in Christ. The truth is, either Christ fulfilled the feast of Tabernacles, or we should still be observing this festival in its Old Testament ceremonies "as if" Christ had not come. This is what some Theologians simply do not understand. By their eschatological chronology, they are trying to have it both ways. Unless its fulfilled in Christ, we must continue it (and some misguided souls do) as an unfulfilled ordinance. Because just as the Passover and Firstfruits feasts, it was commanded by God to be observed forever. So unless we continue it in the body of Christ, we are obligated to continue it as Israel.
In truth, it's just a matter of studying the pertinent scriptures. The answer is found in the same place that we discern the other two feasts. By a careful examination of the scriptures concerning it, we can get an enlightened view of this feast of Tabernacles. It is relatively easy for us to look into the scriptures to see just what God intended it to signify, what it was a figure of, and how it would be fulfilled. The basic fundamental principle involved in rightly dividing the word of truth, begins with diligently comparing scripture with scripture. It is the sound hermeneutical process of letting God be His own interpreter that must be the anchor of any correct understanding. With this in mind, we will take on the task of the study of this feast celebration.
And may the lord who is Gracious above all, give us the wisdom and understanding to rightly discern His truth..
The Feast Of TabernaclesThe Feast Of Tabernacles
by Tony Warren
We begin our examination of this issue in the passage where God commanded Israel to observe the feast of Tabernacles.
The Hebrew word translated feast is [chag], which means a festival, and is identifying this solemn celebration. The feast clearly was to be accompanied by a sacrifice offering made by fire, which was an indication that this ceremony would ultimately find its fulfillment in the sacrifice offering of Christ. The illustration that no work was to be done, signifies that it is by the work of Christ alone that Israel is brought out of Egypt.
- "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.
- On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
- Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein."
The feast is in remembrance of how "God alone" brought His people out of the land of Egypt, and cared for them in the inhospitable wilderness for forty years. It prefigures Christ's work in delivering the whole body of believers from spiritual bondage, and his care for them in this world. And note carefully that God is giving the exact same reason for this feast, as He did for both the feast of Passover, and the feast of Weeks. Obviously this is a tireless reminder that it was because of His action that the children of Israel are delivered from bondage in the land of Egypt. They survived as a people only because He cared for them in their wilderness journey to the promised land. The reason for this continual recollection of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt is quite clearly because God wants us to know that this is typology prefiguring of a much greater deliverance for Israel. Every sound Theologian understands that types do not take away the historical importance of the thing or event, rather, it reveals its positional relationship to the true. It was a shadow of the coming deliverance, the historical occurrence that looked forward to a spiritual fulfillment. Thus, this was something that was never to be forgotten because it is so intimately identified with the true deliverance of Israel. The deliverance that the coming Christ, and His selfless sacrifice, would complete.
- "And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month."
- Ye 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."
God had no pleasure in the offerings made by fire for the feast of Tabernacles, or any other feast offering. The observance of this sacred festival or celebration was merely ceremonial, figures or examples of an offering that would truly deliver God's people from bondage. That is why when Israel was delivered from Egypt, God carried them on eagles wings to protect them in the wilderness as they sojourned and Tabernacled there before they entered the promised land to receive their inheritance. Most Theologians know this, but what many do not fully comprehend is that this was also a signification or "type" of things that was to come. Their wilderness sojourn and tabernacling illustrated that in the fullness of time, God would fulfill this shadow with the completed reality. Namely, He would free His people from spiritual captivity to the taskmaster Satan, and they would then tabernacle with God as He watches over them and bears them up on eagle's wings. With Christ's death and resurrection, New Testament Israel is likewise brought out of bondage and has a wilderness journey in this world before they reach the promised inheritance. Old Testament Israel represented the true Israel of God, which is all those who are in Christ. Being in Christ means those who are a part of "this Israel," are there by promise (Romans 9:6-8), not by bloodline. Because ultimately Israel is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Only in Him is man brought out of the bondage of Egypt, to tabernacle with God. The nation Israel simply represented the true Israel, the true Son of God.
- "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
- Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
- In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure."
- "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt."
Here we have the nation of Israel being used in Hosea 11:1 as a prophecy of its coming fulfillment in Christ. In conjunction with its fulfillment in Matthew 2:15 we can plainly see that it illustrated that Christ was ultimately the Israel of God, and it's only in Him that anyone is brought out of their captivity in spiritual Egypt. In other words, the nation Israel being called the son of God, "represented," or served as a sign or symbol of Christ, the true Son of God. The picture is very much like a literal slaughtered lamb's blood in the Old Testament "represented" Christ's blood. At no time was all the nation of Israel saved, it was always a remnant chosen by grace. That remnant had part in the true Israel of God, not because they kept the law and were circumcised in flesh, but because they were circumcised in Heart, being justified by faith. That is why we read in verses such as Romans 9:6, "They are not all Israel which are of Israel." God is objecting to any contention that just being a physical Jew makes you Israel in His eyes. He is declaring that He will be the one to define who Israel really is. And unambiguously He illustrates that it's not a political nation, it's not a bloodline or physical kindred, and it's not by genealogy. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, or who is one Spiritually, not outwardly or physically. Israel is chosen by God, and are a people of promise. Jacob was in Christ and thus of the Israel of God, while his blood brother Esau was not. It is true that the children of God were "primarily" from within the nation of Israel before the cross, because God uses the congregation to represent the Israel of God. Just as Hosea and Matthew illustrate. Even as the New Testament congregation (the visible Church) represents the body of Christ. Even though some in it are truly saved, and some are not. The New Testament "is" the New Covenant. Covenant and Testament are, Biblically speaking, the same words. So the New Testament is the New Covenant with Israel (see the Israel of God study), signifying those who have been loosed from captivity to Satan.
- "When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
- And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son."
So now we can better understand why Israel's observance of the feast of Tabernacles was a sacrifice offering celebration, which is to be understood as commemorating their deliverance from bondage, and their dwelling in tabernacles en route to the Promised Land (Leviticus 23:42,43). i.e., it shows the children of God in their walk towards receiving their promised inheritance. The week of the feast of booths, when God's people tabernacle in the wilderness after their deliverance, is "typifying" the New Covenant week. And spiritually speaking, the New Covenant week is the wilderness journey of the children of God on their way to the promised inheritance. In other words, it was a picture illustrating where covenant history was headed. So we are indeed keeping the feast of Tabernacles by being in Christ. He is our eternal offering, the tabernacle or booth in which we dwell. It is in this Tabernacle alone that the sons of God will find the peace and safety that was promised Israel.
The lord washed away the filth at the cross, and Christ is that prophesied tabernacle, the true booth or shelter from the storm, and refuge for God's people. Christ is the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles which the children of God were commanded to celebrate forever. And the Church has been keeping this feast from the moment that they were delivered from spiritual bondage, and translated into The Kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). The millennial reign of the Kingdom of Christ was instituted with His death and resurrection. Those Bible scholars that agree that the feast of Tabernacles represents the beginning of the Millennial period are correct. But they are in error thinking this period is future, as Christ has already come and bound Satan that His Church could be built from the peoples of the nations. Christ has already brought His government, His Kingdom, and established His laws. Living waters have already gone out from Jerusalem, and the LORD is king over all the nations of the earth. And whosoever has not been translated into Christ's Kingdom, has not come up to Jerusalem, and is not keeping the feast of Tabernacles. Upon them shall be no rain, neither shall they have peace or be blessed in all their increase. These are all the things that the weeklong celebration of the children of Israel symbolized. Because their seven day feast week signified the week in which the Covenant is Confirmed (made strong ) by the Prince of peace, by his shed blood. The Church is the body of Christ, for He is that Tabernacle wherein we dwell in the wilderness, watched over by God on our journey to the promised land. He is the burnt offering made by fire (signifying judgment), which was the offering prescribed by God for this feast week.
- "When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
- And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.
- And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain."
End of the World Fulfillment?
Because this feast so identifies with our journey through the wilderness of this world, there are some theologians who believe that the feast must be fulfilled in the future, at the end of the world. While this is somewhat understandable observed as an end of harvest celebration, each feast "must" of necessity be completed or fulfilled in the death of Christ. He is that sacrifice offering that each feast "required" by law. By offering up Himself, Christ fulfilled the requirement. The feast of Passover pointed to Christ as our Passover, and the feast of Firstfruits pointed to Christ as the Firstfruit, and the feast of Tabernacles pointed to Christ as our Tabernacle.
Keep in mind that these three major feasts were everlasting laws requiring that all males of Israel travel to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (Ex. 23:14-19). These feasts can "only" be kept as everlasting ordinances if they are kept in Christ. Just as Jesus fulfilled the law of the 7th day Sabbath by being our Sabbath wherein we rest from our works. It is only in Christ that we keep the law of the Sabbath forever, as was required by old testament law. For by His death, He became our eternal Sabbath or rest. And that also pointed to the ultimate rest God's children have at the end of the world. Likewise, the feast of Tabernacles points to the end of the world only in the sense that the Church's wilderness journey lasts unto the end of the world. That journey from bondage to inheritance will complete the covenant week. Just as the Children of Israel kept the feast of Tabernacles in the wilderness before they received their inheritance, likewise those delivered from bondage by Christ are keeping the feast of Tabernacles.
The word translated tabernacles in the Old Testament is [cukkah] or [sukkot] and means booths. These tent-like dwellings were made of branches of the palm trees (Leviticus 23:39-40), and God's people were to dwell in these tabernacles for 7 days. And like the feast of Passover and the feast of weeks or firstfruits, this feast has a dual significance. There is the historical narrative, and then there is the prophetical. They were told to rejoice in this feast because the Lord God would Bless thee in all their increase, and in all the works of their hands. This is the condition of the Church. We rejoice because, in Christ, there is bounty, security, and peace. In Him all nations, Jews and Gentiles, the stranger and the Levite, we all keep this festival in the place where the Lord Chose. In the tabernacle Christ, the only true Holy place. In Him Israel keeps the everlasting law of going to Jerusalem (the Holy City) for the observance of these three feasts. If not, then every man is in serious violation of God's Law that states that these precepts were everlasting, and that he who doesn't faithfully keep the feast of Tabernacles, the Lord will smite them, and upon them shall be no rain. The law isn't done away with, it is fulfilled in Christ. The fact is, all three feasts were everlasting laws, and thus must be kept in some way or another. And so all three were fulfilled in the death of Christ, and by this was our obligation to keep the law perfectly, accomplished.
- Thou shalt observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine:
- and thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.
- seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose: BECAUSE the Lord thy God shall Bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore, thou shalt surely rejoice."
Christ keeps the everlasting law, and any sin is paid for in His broken body, so that the ceremonial aspect of the law has been fulfilled. Israel now goes to the Holy city, Jerusalem, in Christ. To the city made without hands, not literally to a town in the middle east.
- "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
- For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
Surely the scriptures teach that the feast of Tabernacles has its ultimate climax in the end of the year harvest, when the Tabernacle is opened in heaven. It doesn't take much discernment to realize that this Old Testament harvest is a picture of the end of the world, and the workers in the field bringing in the increase. This harvest of Israel when God says that all of the labors were to be gathered in out of the field, is intimately tied to the end of the world harvest. This is when all of the labors of the children of God are gathered in out of the field, which is the world. An example of this is when Jesus told the parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Believers and unbelievers) that were both sown in the field. He explained the meaning this way:
Clearly the field is a symbolic term used for this world in which we live. The Children of The kingdom are the saints of God. Believers are the children of God who reign in this millennial Kingdom now. They are His servants in this Kingdom, who have been sown of God. God says that the wheat and tares (believers and unbelievers) would remain in the world together until the time of the harvest. There is no rapture of the believers first before the end of the world, they both remain together until the end of the world harvest (verse 39). God is equating the harvest of the field, with the end of the world. Throughout scripture the season ending harvest is consistently linked with the end of the world. So we have the early harvest of firstfruits, and the other God calls the end of year harvest. Both are fulfilled by Christ's death.
- "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
- the enemy that sowed them is the devil; The Harvest is the end of the World; and the reapers are the angels."
Here God puts the two feasts together. The first feast of the harvest of the firstfruits, and the feast of Tabernacles when they gather in the harvest at the end of the year (Exodus 34:22). Tabernacles is appropriately called "ingathering" here as it commemorates the final ingathering pointing to the salvation program. The three feasts were to be observed annually, but the last feast commemorated the end of year harvest when the last gathering in of the labors of the field take place. Note also how God marvelously uses the wordings here for firstfruits of harvest as labors that are sown in the field, which is Pentecost, pointing to the Holy Spirit. But for the end of year Tabernacle harvest, God uses the language of them being gathered "Out" of the field, which points to the increase. Literally,
- "And the feast of harvest, the Firstfruits of thy labors, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of in gathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labors out of the field."
"..and the feast of the in gathering, in the out-going of the year, in thy gathering thy works out of the field."
The early feast of Firstfruits that are sown in the field, are contrasted with the end of year feast of Tabernacles and the gathering out of the field. In the three feasts where Israel was to go to Jerusalem, we have the figure pointing to the completion or fulfillment of the New Covenant Period. On the exact day of harvest of firstfruits (Pentecost) the pouring out of the Holy Spirit occurred, that many would be exercised thereby, and also become firstfruits of God. They are born of the Spirit, firstfruits unto God.
We are the firstfruits because Christ was the Firstfruit. And thus, in Him we were raised up unto newness of life. There is a great harvest of souls taking place throughout the whole world because He has made us the firstfruits of God, by pouring out of His Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Concerning this outpouring of the Spirit the prophet Joel said, "the floors shall be full of wheat." And indeed they are, for this was the fulfillment of the feast of firstfruits. There was a precise timetable that had to be followed in these feasts, and they all were followed meticulously.
- "Of His own will begat He us with the Word of Truth, that we should be a kind of Firstfruits of His creatures."
The fact is, God had these three annual feasts for Israel planned from the start. The number three is scripture is often used to illustrate God's Purpose or God's Will (e.g., John 2:19; Acts 11:10; 1John 5:7-8; Rev. 21:13. By these three annual feasts and pilgrimages to Jerusalem, He demonstrated His predetermination that the Passover sacrifice that the children of Israel were to make, pointed to the true Passover, Christ. He predetermined that the firstfruits of the increase of the field pointed to the true Firstfruit, Christ. And He predetermined that the sacrifice by fire for the feast of Tabernacles pointed to the true Tabernacle, Christ. Anyone who thinks that the feast of Tabernacles isn't also pointing to Christ, has certainly not been reading the scriptures very carefully. From the time of Christ's death, (the sacrifice efficacy for this feast) to the time of Christ's return (the harvest), the children of Israel are keeping the feast of Tabernacles by partaking in that everlasting sacrifice by fire. The covenant week prefigured Israel's "true" wilderness sojourn after Christ delivered us from the bondage of spiritual Egypt, in His body.
This is the Israel Matthew says was the Son "called out of Egypt," because this Israel is Christ. He is the Deliverer out of Zion who was prophesied to come and free Jacob from captivity. And that is exactly what Christ did. While the Scribes, Priest and Pharisees taught the Jews of an earthly carnal kingdom and carnal deliverance, Isaiah prophesied of a loosing from captivity that far outweighs any physical or carnal deliverance. Isaiah continues:
- "Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
- And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
- And said unto me, Thou art My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
In God's people being delivered from the bondage of the prison house of Satan, they are made to dwell in tabernacles in the wilderness, before they can enter into the promised land. i.e., they have been delivered from one house and translated into another. From Satan's house to that tabernacle or house, which is Christ. This is the New Covenant Temple or Tabernacle wherein the children of Israel must dwell, and that was the significance of the ceremonial law of it being observed one week. The week prefigures the Covenant, and Christ is the only tabernacle that Israel is to worship.
- "And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
- And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
- Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
- Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
- That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places."
No tabernacle is to be built for Moses or Elijah, but only in Christ alone can we dwell, the Lord's Son Israel, in whom we are brought out of Egypt. So when theologians define the feast of Tabernacles from a solid Biblical hermeneutics perspective, they must consider the whole Biblical picture. Only then will they see clearly what it signifies. And the first thing to look to in determining what the festival was pointing to, is to find any information in scripture as to why God said it was to be observed. By comparing scripture with scripture we glean the truth of prophecies:
- "And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
- While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
- And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
- And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen."
This Hebrew word translated "booth" [cukkah] or [sukkah] is the "exact" same word that is translated "Tabernacle." So let there be no confusion about what is being spoken of here. Here in this verse we see that all that were "born Israelites" were to dwell in tabernacles for one week, "as a token" or "indicator" for the generation to come that they were first housed in tabernacles after God brought them out from the bondage of Egypt. In other words, this feast was ceremonial to let the coming generations know that God gave them dwellings in the wilderness. After their being set free from captivity, God made to dwell in tabernacles watched over them. We can readily see that this correlates perfectly with Christ delivering us from spiritual bondage to Satan, and how we consequently dwell in the tabernacle which is Christ on our wilderness journey to the promised land. Between our release from bondage at the cross, and the receiving of the promised inheritance, the children of God are first made to dwell in the wilderness. This tabernacling for a week signified the New Covenant fulfillment. It pictures Israel's millennial reign of peace and safety as He tabernacles with man. God instituted this feast to typify this. Indeed, that is why it is called the feast or festival of tabernacles. Because it commemorates or was the celebration of the promised Messiah's fulfillment in His coming to earth to tabernacle with the children of God.
- "Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; and 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."
Old Testament Israel built tabernacles by hand, but the true Tabernacle which is Christ, is perfect! This is why when Christ's brethren asked him to come up to Jerusalem to the feast of Tabernacles with them, Jesus responded that His "time had not yet full come" (John 7:8). In other words, Christ told them that it was not yet His time to go up to Jerusalem and sacrifice Himself on the cross as the fulfillment of the feast wherein they would tabernacle. Nevertheless, we read that He went anyway, because as the faithful Priest, He showed He faithfully kept the law. It's the exact same principle that we can see when Christ's mother said that they had no wine for the wedding feast (John 2:3). Just as the feast of Tabernacles, the wedding feast was a type illustrating our wedding. So Jesus responded with what might be considered harsh words, as he declared, "Woman, what have I to do with thee, My hour is not yet come!" And then as with the episode of the feast of Tabernacles, He then made the wine anyway. But you see, it only seems like harsh words if we do not understand that Jesus was "truly" talking about "the Woman, the church, and the wine that was His blood shed for her, and that it was not yet His hour to go to the cross and shed it, that the wedding party have to drink." Nevertheless, He did go ahead and turn the "purifying water of the Jews," into wine. Both these episodes were spiritual tokens or signs that it wasn't yet time for Him to become the Tabernacle wherein they would dwell, or to give them His blood for them to drink. Those things could only be done in ceremonies, but their efficacy would be fulfill at the time of the cross. It would be then that He would shed His blood as wine for His wedding, and it would be then that he would be killed and raised up again a Tabernacle wherein His people dwell. It would be by His sacrifice that He would fulfill these prophesies, which are spiritually discerned.
- "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;"
This is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Amos, of the coming of the Messiah to sit on the throne of David. By divine inspiration of God the prophet Amos foresaw Messiah's kingdom being established. And the book of Acts tells us this was fulfilled in Christ's first advent.
- "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
- And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
- After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
- That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things."
That Hebrew word there is the same word [cukkah] or tabernacle. The fallen tabernacle of David represents the kingdom of David, which had fallen or forsaken God when the Christ came. It was Christ who set the tabernacle right and restored again the Kingdom to Israel by His death and resurrection. When Christ said destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up, He spoke of the temple of His body. And it is in His body alone that the tabernacle of David is raised up again. When Christ builds His Church, He is building again the tabernacle or kingdom of David, and reigns on the throne
- "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:"
The Church (just as national Israel) goes through this world as strangers and pilgrims here. In other words, this is not their real home. God has made us to dwell in tabernacles here to accomplish the work He has given us, but our real home is found at the end of this wilderness journey. The "wilderness" typifies the nature of this world is dry, desolate and spiritually barren, as a desert. John the Baptist called of God, a voice crying in the wilderness, typifying that He was a lone voice in a desolate place, like a breath of fresh air. He word was like waters in a dry and thirsty ground, or like a soothing comforting voice in time of trouble. This is how the Gospel is. Like a river that waters a barren ground that it might spring forth with new life. God's people are not harmed in this wilderness because God has provided them a tabernacle to shelter them. Because He reigns, believers also reign with Christ as Kings and Priests. And out of their bellies come forth living waters to make the deserts bloom. For Christ's people are as evangelists in the wilderness. That Tabernacles concerns the work of the Church is illustrated in Deuteronomy chapter thirty-one.
The feast of Tabernacles here is associated with the assembling of the Church or congregation, and the preaching of the law of God. And this is what is in view in the New Testament dispensation. For example, Revelation chapter 12 speaks of a woman in heaven who gave birth to the Man-Child (Christ). God is using symbolic language to illustrate Israel as a woman, out of which the Christ child was born. Verse 14 of that chapter declares that after His ascension to the throne, this woman (the congregation Israel) was given the wings of an eagle to fly into her place in the wilderness, where she is fed. Here again, the wilderness is typifying the barren nature of the world that the children of God reside in as they tabernacle in Christ and faithfully declare the law of God. Being fed illustrates God is giving them the bread of His word. The wings Israel was given symbolized God's care, protection, and security. The basic overview of this chapter is that it symbolizes that Christ was the Man-Child who came out of Israel to rule, and who casts down and binds Satan that Israel is delivered from bondage to Satan. Remember, in the symbolism of the chapter, the woman had 12 stars representing the 12 tribes and Satan was casting the stars to the ground before this Man-Child came to deliver them. By this man Child, Satan fell from heaven as lightning falls from the sky. In other words, by His action the stars will no longer be cast down by this Dragon, Satan. That is when we see the picture of the woman then protected on eagle's wings and fed "in the wilderness." This is how God uses symbolism in Revelation to present many spiritual truths to His people. And of course it is almost an exact parallel with the nation Israel when she was freed from bondage to Egypt. She likewise had to go through a wilderness journey before she could enter the promised land. And here in Revelation 12, God illustrates that this woman Israel, delivered of the Man-Child, must also spend time in the wilderness.
- "And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
- When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
- Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:"
The place prepared for Israel to be fed in the wilderness, is the tabernacle of Christ. In her sojourn in the world, in Christ, this woman is keeping the feast of Tabernacles before she can enter the promised land. And the Lord will bring her unto Himself, just as He brought the nation Israel unto Himself. By no stretch of the imagination should we think that any of these things are coincidence. God is not the author of coincidence, but of providence, hope and faith. The wings that the symbolic woman is given in Revelation chapter 12 corresponds to the wings God has "always" provided for Israel to bring her securely to her home. For example, God said to Moses concerning His bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt:
- "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days."
This is God's symbolism of how He always cares for His children. When He brought Israel out of bondage, He protected them on eagle's wings. The same principle is established in Revelation chapter 12 when He brought New Testament Israel out of bondage from spiritual Egypt. He provided those same eagles wings to secure the Church to Him on its wilderness sojourn. God isn't playing word games here, He wants us to know that Israel of old was a "type" or representation of the true Israel of God, would be delivered by the sacrifice of Christ. God's people are symbolized by a woman because symbolically they are the "bride" of Christ. God gathered her and carries her in peace and safety in the wilderness, under His wings.
- "Ye have seen What I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on Eagle's Wings, and brought you unto myself."
Those who do not believe that we are tabernacling with Christ are not looking carefully at God's tabernacle imagery. It is the Bible, not man, which says our body is a Holy Temple of God wherein He dwells, and that Christ is the Holy Temple wherein we dwell. That is the intimate relationship that God has in tabernacling with man. Our bodies are actually spoken of as tabernacles of God, because He dwells within us. And after this present millennial reign on earth with Christ is over, and our wilderness sojourn is through, we will put off this temporary tabernacle, (which is our body) and will receive our permanent habitation. Then our present reign and Kingdom of God on earth will be delivered up to God. And we shall receive a house or body incorruptible. This will occur at the end of the world, on the last day.
1st Corinthians 15:24
Then is the end of time when kingdom of God on earth is delivered up to God, and the tabernacle of God is opened in Heaven (Revelation 11:19) that we shall join Him there. This is the "marvelous" way that God uses His Word like a gigantic spiritual picture puzzle in order to illustrate these truths to us. As Israel of old sojourned in tabernacles in the wilderness, likewise the Israel of God today must do the same. Christ is our permanent tabernacle, and our bodies are our temporary tabernacles in this world. As Abraham did, we also look for a better habitation, which is our real home in heaven. Hebrews chapter 11 speaks Abraham, who sojourned in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles, who looked for a city whose builder and maker is God, and he confessed that he was a stranger and a pilgrim on earth. He knew and understood that his true home was in heaven, and his tabernacle on earth was his temporary abode. He looked for a house, a city, made not by man, but by God. Made not of Olive leaves or of tree branches, but the true Tabernacle those leaves prefigured. Not made of bricks, stones, and mortar as the physical Temple of Israel, but the true house, which that physical house represented. One that could never be corruptible flesh, or stones that could be thrown down, or leaves that could be destroyed. Physical tabernacles whether stone, or leaves, booths or flesh, are all corruptible. But the "true" house of God stands forever.
- "Then cometh the end, when He shall have Delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the father, when He shall have put down all rule and Authority and Power."
2nd Peter 1:14 says,
Obviously he is talking about his decease. He knew that he was dwelling in a tabernacle, and that his tabernacle (body) was merely a temporary Holy temple of God. As a child of God he knew that this was a temporary home for his wilderness sojourn to the true promised land. Just as Christ had shown Him when He put off that temple or tabernacle and ascended up to God. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1st Corinthians 15:50). The man of God is a ministering spirit, and he's not at home in this body of flesh, and he longs to be in his real home in Heaven. On this earth we dwell in the Kingdom of God spiritually, but we must remain physically in our temporary bodily habitation. God marvelously ties all these truths together very neatly, that we would come to realize that our tabernacle journey is merely a way stop, a side trip, a necessary labor of love that we must do first. Ultimately, our pilgrimage here will end and we shall put of this tabernacle and go to our true home.
- "Yea I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this Tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me."
2nd Corinthians 5:1
That's what the Israelites coming out of bondage to Egypt and their necessary wilderness journey in tabernacles, was pointing to. They had to tabernacle in the wilderness and if they obeyed God, they would live. If they were disobedient, they would die in the wilderness because of unbelief. Which shows us that "only" those who tabernacle spiritually in the body of Christ, and are made righteous in His obedience, and can enter the promised land. Without this tabernacle, we would all die in the wilderness because of unbelief. For if God tabernacles with us, He dwells within us and we in Him. And He has fulfilled his prophecy of tabernacles, as we keep the festival in His body.
- "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:"
- "And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
- And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
- I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright."
Christ is that tabernacle set among us forever. The New Testament is that everlasting Covenant/Testament, and this is what that Old Testament feast or festival commemorated. God tabernacling with men after they are brought forth out of Egypt. That is how God has made us His people, and we who served no God, He became our God. He came to earth the Tabernacle of God among men to dwell with us forever (John 1:14). This is illustrated with equal clarity in verses like 2nd Corinthians where God says the same thing about Him being our God, and we His people. And the emphasis is on the temple, the tabernacle of God being with us.
- "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
- My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
2nd Corinthians 6:16-18
So we see that this is the fulfillment of those scriptures that spoke about God tabernacling with us. This is what the rejoicing in the feast of Tabernacles looked forward to. The coming reign of Christ in His Kingdom as He dwells with us, and we serve Him as His subjects. We are both in Him as He is the Holy Temple, and He dwells within us as our body is the Holy Temple. This is because Christ within us makes our body His habitation and thus a Holy Temple. As Christ said when speaking of His body, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. He fulfilled the prophesy of the Old Testament that the Messiah would come and restore the fallen tabernacle of David (Amos 9:11, Acts 15:16). He restored that Tabernacle in the body of Christ. For Christ is the chief corner stone of the building again of the Holy Temple. This is the true tabernacle of God dwelling with us, which makes our bodies tabernacles of God. This is our festival of rejoicing in tabernacles.
- "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
- Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
- And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
The entire New Covenant period is from the cross to the return of Christ. God uses the number 7 in scripture to illustrate totality or the completeness of things (Zechariah 4:10; Luke 17:4 Hebrews 11:30; Revelation 8:6, 10:4, 15:6). Thus I believe that God has the feast of booths last 7 days as a sign or token of this completeness. It's also interesting to note that various offerings prescribed for use in the feast of Tabernacles are divisible by 7. This number typifies the complete or total efficacy of the sacrifice offering in the fulfillment of the Covenant week. This feast was to take place in the seventh month and to last for seven days, and this correlates to the totality of the wilderness sojourn the saints have in tabernacles after being freed from bondage. The New Covenant with Israel is established in Christ's blood, and this period is identified spiritually as one week.
For example, look at the prophecy of Daniel 9 where God declares how Messiah the Prince (Christ) must come to confirm (Strengthen) the Covenant for one week. Pay particular attention to that word (KJV) translated confirm, because it literally means strengthen. This is the word [gabar], meaning to "make strong." Thus the Prince that was to come was to make strong or give strength to the covenant. That is how He confirms the Covenant for one week. Yet Daniel 9 also says this Prince is cut off after 69 weeks. But there is no mystery. Because that is how the Prince makes the Covenant strong for one week. In the midst of this week He shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease. This is the judgement of God in the Temple as illustrated in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2:7-12. And if that is indeed so, this Covenant week is the entire New Covenant/Testament period. And He strengthened this Covenant by His own Blood. This also being confirmed in Hebrews chapter 9.
This word Testament is synonymous with Covenant. Clearly God tells us that this Covenant was without strength until Christ gave it strength by going to the Cross and dying. This is the Covenant that Daniel 9 says was strengthened for one week by Messiah the Prince. It was by Him being cut off, but not for Himself, for the sins of His people. It is not a Covenant allegedly confirmed by antichrist, nor by Romans, nor by Cyrus, but by Messiah the Prince. And this "week" it is strengthened symbolizes the New Testament/Covenant period that the saints are the keeping of the feast of Tabernacles in Christ. Some people cannot accept the fact that the New Covenant with Israel is the same as the New Testament with Israel. The New Covenant Church is the New Testament Church. If you are part of the New Testament congregation, then you are part of the New Covenant with Israel. This Covenant was made strong at the cross by the shed blood of Messiah, the Prince.
- "For where a Testament is, there must of necessity be the Death of the testator.
- For a Testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of No Strength at all while the testator liveth.
This is the Prince that confirmed the Covenant for one week. He confirmed or gave it the strength of efficacy, by the sacrifice of himself. By the term we saw in Daniel, "..made strong one week," God is illustrating to us that this is week is the New Covenant week. The week that the feast of Tabernacles typified in the offering and ceremony that looked forward to Christ. This week is metaphorically the period the saints tabernacle in the wilderness of the world as strangers and pilgrims, secure because of the sacrifice of Christ.
- "..and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His Temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant whom ye delight in.."
What About Zechariah 14?
Zechariah chapter 14 clearly connects the feast of Tabernacles with the prophesied kingdom of Christ, and how living waters would only be in Jerusalem, and all the people would have to go there. Obviously, this is not saying that literally every believer in the world has to go to the middle east and visit Jerusalem every year. That's not how the gospel works. There are many theologians who have misunderstood the prophecy of Zechariah 14, and are confused concerning the feast of Tabernacles mentioned there. This is somewhat understandable, because Zechariah chapter 14 is one of the most difficult chapters in the Bible. When we read there about the coming of Christ, when living waters would go out from Jerusalem, and the Lord is King over the whole earth, many look at this as something future. But this is speaking of Christ's first advent, and it was fulfilled at the cross. He is the Living water and He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. That's all accomplished. But because there are some verses which are (even to some seasoned veterans of scripture) quite difficult to understand, many theologians have concluded that this has to be a future event. Nevertheless, the fact is, Jerusalem "is" dwelling safely Now, because the Jerusalem that is in view there is not a literal city, but the city spoken of in Isaiah chapter 40 where it says, "Comfort ye Jerusalem, thy warfare is accomplished." That's not a physical or literal holy city in the middle east, that is the body of believers. And it's not talking about a literal earthly warfare there, it's talking about spiritual warfare finished. In other words, the saints are comforted and made safe in this city, when they drink of the living waters of Christ and make peace with God. That is when their warfare with Him is accomplished or finished. It has nothing to do with literal battles in Jerusalem. And because many theologians do not fully understand how God uses metaphors to paint spiritual pictures, they often go off in the wrong direction looking for truth. The Prince of peace is Him who has brought that peace and safety to Jerusalem. Not to a literal city, but to a spiritual city. When false prophets claim peace and safety for literal cities, they prophesy lies. For there is neither peace nor safety in earthly cities, earthly kingdoms, earthly treaties or covenants. Only in the true Holy City of God is there true peace and true safety. The camp of the saints is now the beloved Holy City that dwells safely because Christ has bound Satan, and delivered them from his house of bondage. And this is the peace that the Prince of Peace brought to comfort the city. Zechariah 14 in like manner uses symbolic language to demonstrate spiritual truths.
God metaphorically calls His people Lamps, Branches, Fishermen, Olive Trees, Stones, etc. This is to show some characteristic or aspect of these things in them. So why should anyone be taken back when God metaphorically call His people them Jerusalem (The holy city) and Israel (the holy nation)? For in this Israel alone will saints "dwell in safely." These things have nothing to do with the literal land/nation Israel. It's a Covenant with an Israel far superior to any plot of land, genealogical line, or political nation. Christ confirmed a Covenant of Grace, not of race. And it's a Covenant securing an inheritance far more secure than any handful of dirt in the middle east. It's a kingdom that is far more precious and eternal than any worldly kingdom or reign on earth could ever be. It's the peace and security of a people who are dwelling with God. The nation of Israel was used as the type, and thus was a figure of this. The following chart is a demonstration of the similitude in the types and their fulfillment.
The Typology and its Fulfillment
Historical Egypt Wilderness Canaan
Literal sacrifices instituted, and they eat of the lamb and dwell in tabernacles in the wilderness in remembrance of how God brought them out of bondage to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
They were made to serve with rigor under the taskmaster Pharaoh, so they called upon their God who sent them a deliverer, who freed them from captivity.
The Children of Israel spent 40 years sojourning in the wilderness, in tabernacles, fed by Manna, drinking from the Rock, and God sustained them on eagles wings on their way to the promised inheritance.
The typology, entrance into the Promised inheritance, fulfillment of the promises God had made to the children of Israel concerning the literal homeland.
Prophetical Bondage The World Inheritance
The sacrifice is fulfilled, and we eat of the Christ and dwell in the tabernacle in the world before we enter into our promised inheritance, in remembrance of how God brought us out of bondage to Satan.
We were made to serve with rigor under the taskmaster Satan, and we called upon our God who sent us a deliverer, who freed us from captivity.
We, the Children of Israel spent the week of tabernacles sojourning in the world, fed by Manna, drinking from the Rock, and God sustains us on eagles wings on our way to the promised inheritance.
The consummation, entrance into the Promised inheritance, fulfillment of the promises God had made to the children of Israel concerning the eternal homeland.
I am often asked, "what about the other prophesies of Zechariah 14, like that of the plagues?" While Zechariah 14 is not the scope of this study, each of the prophesies are symbolic references that point to salvation or judgement.
Zechariah chapter 14 is a whole study in itself (too much to get into here), but briefly, this plague was the curse that came upon the children of Israel because of their rejection of Christ. They are spiritually the families of Egypt (Revelation 11:8) who remain in bondage, and if they do not come to Christ (come up to Jerusalem) to keep the feast of Tabernacles, they shall not receive the rain. In other words, those who fail to get to Jerusalem to partake in the feast of Tabernacles will have no rain. For from Jerusalem is the "only place" to find these living waters.
"And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles."
The Jews who rejected Christ were blinded (in part), and that is what Zechariah means when he declares that their eyes consume away in their holes. That is spiritual language denoting that they will lose their sight, or that they have "no eyes" with which to see. It's not a prophecy foretelling a time when people's eyes will "physically" disappear from their sockets, but it prophesies they will spiritually not have eyes. And indeed, I am amazed that so many theologians actually think that all of this is literal. So much so that they are incredulous that anyone would even suggest that God speaks metaphorically there. They react "as if" such an idea is foreign to the Bible, when in fact it is "normative." Zechariah is a prophecy that the elect could be comforted because their warfare with God was accomplished, because Christ has brought peace and safety. This occurred at the cross.
Those who came up to warfare against Jerusalem were all the unsaved. This remnant who are left are those who became saved. For them, their "warfare" accomplished or finished (Isaiah 40:2) because Christ has paid for their sins. The saved now spiritually go up to worship this King and keep the law of the feast of Tabernacles. Christ is that King of kings and Lord of hosts that Zechariah says we annually go up to in the Holy City (as was the everlasting law required in Leviticus). For some theologians to actually think God would re-institute a "literal or physical" ceremonial Old Testament law that was fulfilled in the death of Christ, is quite a reckless eschatology. Saints from every nation (when we become saved) are coming up to the Holy City and keeping the feast of Tabernacles. They don't come up to a literal mountain in Israel, or an earthly city Jerusalem, or to a literal Temple made with hands. But in Christ they've come to a City whose builder and maker is God and wherein dwelleth righteousness.
- "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."
This is the Holy City Jerusalem that the children of God have come unto, not a geographical location in the middle east. In this heavenly city we keep the feast of Tabernacles for ever, as required by law. We are tabernacling in Christ, who has brought fulfillment. The children of God are the families of the earth whom Zechariah says worship Him, and call Him king of all the earth. Being the true spiritual Israel of God, they are those who have been delivered from bondage, and are keeping the feast. The unbelievers (those not confirmed by the blood of the New Covenant with Israel) are the ones who do not come up to that Holy City and who do not keep the feast of Tabernacles. And the reason of course is that they are still spiritually children of Egypt who were not brought out of the land of bondage. They're still there. They don't serve this king of Kings, they serve their master in the house of bondage. And their servitude is slavery to sin (john 8:33-34). Their judgement for sin is that they shall have no rain.
- "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
- To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
- And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
No rain is symbolism of the judgement of God upon Israel. And this is precisely what God did to Israel when He left their house desolate by His death on the cross.
- "And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
- For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry."
The remnant or believers of Israel are those who will water the earth as the rain from God. Jesus Himself said, out of their bellies shall flow rivers of living waters. i.e., they receive the rain of salvation and they go forth evangelizing the world as showers upon the grass. But Zechariah is fulfilled in that, "on these who won't come up to the Holy City, there shall be no rain." There will be no showers of Blessings, the cleansing rain, and no living waters which Christ poured upon all those who go up to worship the King.
- "And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men."
The "Confirming of the Covenant" one week is with living waters rained down upon the saints. Those who don't keep the week of the feast of Tabernacles shall not receive this rain. They have no part in the confirmation of the inheritance accomplished by Christ, wherein there is the rain for the Children of God. Again, this is demonstrating that the Lord's people are those keeping the feast of Tabernacles in Christ. This is the week Daniel 9 said Messiah would confirm. It is the covenant week He strengthened in His own Blood at the cross (Gal. 3:17, Hebrews 9:17). It's the entire New Covenant period from Christ's feast of sowing in the field, to the end of world harvest and the gathering out of the field. It's from our deliverance from bondage, to our entrance into the promised land when we receive our inheritance.
- "Thou O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst Confirm Thine inheritance, when it was weary."
1st Peter 1:3-7
As we saw in Zechariah, it is in Christ that we greatly rejoice in keeping the feast of Tabernacles on our way to the promised inheritance. This is why we greatly rejoice and go up to the Holy City and keep the feast of Tabernacles. Tabernacles is the only feast that God gave specific instructions to His people to rejoice at. For we are as a city whose warfare is ended, and whose iniquity has been pardoned. A City made Holy by the descending of Christ to sanctify it and make it the Holy place. A City that dwells so safely and securely that the gates of Hell cannot ever prevail over it. For this is the Holy city that shall remain forever.
- "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
- To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
- Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
- Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
- That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"
It is this deeper, fuller, spiritual significance of the feast of Tabernacles that so many theologians miss. It was never just designed to be a simple memorial celebration, but a prophecy that holds a very spiritual meaning of ingathering and of harvest. The prophet Zechariah makes that very clear when His words are compared with scripture and interpreted in "light" of scripture. When our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came from heaven with living waters to be king, and to reign on the throne of David, He fulfilled Zechariah's prophecy of this.
- "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."
That is the day that living waters went forth from Jerusalem. By His death and ascension to that throne, we are brought out of bondage, and God tabernacles with us in the wilderness of this world until the time we reach the promised inheritance.
- "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
- "And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
- and the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one."
The Prophecy of one lord and one king, and in us all, is thus fulfilled. The day that living waters went out from Jerusalem has come in the Lord. It's not a future prophecy of keeping a feast of Tabernacles that would deny Christ has already come, but it's a fulfilled (completed) prophecy. He is the living water that went out from Jerusalem, half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea, in summer and in winter. This is the beginning of the Messianic age because salvation goes forth in Christ to both Jew and Gentile, and in all seasons. Christ is the water whereby if any man shall drink, He shall have eternal life and never die. Nor shall he ever thirst again.
- "One Lord and One faith, One baptism,
- One God and father of All, who is above all and through all, and in you all."
The feast of Tabernacles is spoken about in John chapter seven. The week of this feast in rejoicing because of God's deliverance ushers in the messianic age, followed by the eighth day (twenty-second of Tishri), which is the greatest day of the feast. This holy convocation (Leviticus 23:36) on the eighth day "signified" a new day, a new Sabbath day (sunday) in which our works would end, old things are passed away and made new in Christ (Leviticus 23:35-36). John tells us of this eighth day.
The people there in Jerusalem said, "of a truth this is the Prophet." i.e., they thought that this must be the Messiah and the fulfillment of the prophecy of the beginning of the Messianic age. And they were right. When Christ stood in Jerusalem and offered the living water to anyone who would believe on Him, He was declaring on "the last day" of the feast of Tabernacles that he was fulfilling the prophecy of the tabernacle of David. The efficacy would come when the Holy Spirit is poured out at Pentecost, but Christ standing there offering those living waters fulfilled the prophecy. He was illustrating that Israel should look to Him for their salvation and deliverance. For that feast celebrated His body, the tabernacle of David that brought renewal or restoration, and instituted the start of the Messianic age in the millennial reign of Christ.
- "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 believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
- (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
- Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
- Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
- Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?"
Note the correlation of the feast of Tabernacles to Christ coming to Jerusalem and declaring that He is the living water. Clearly, this tabernacle is where those living waters from Jerusalem would be found, and it's no coincidence that God says these things exactly on the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles. There is a precise timetable in prophecy that has to be followed. And Christ is hereby illustrating that He is the fulfillment of that prophesy of living waters, He was that tabernacles fulfillment, and He was that true Sabbath of rest, wherein the 7th day Sabbath was merely a shadow pointing to Him.
This is how the ceremonial celebrations were merely shadows, a dark "form" of the true, but the reality is found in the body of Christ. The festivals or feasts were teaching instruments until the Christ should come. But now we have the true in His body. And so to claim that this feast isn't fulfilled yet would mean we should return to observing the ceremonial, looking forward to His coming. That would be blatantly unbiblical. We must remember that the feast of Tabernacles was the institution of the ingathering, the culmination of the prophesies of Christ when the holy city would be the center of Christ's Kingdom on earth. It can only point to Christ, the center of the Kingdom and to whom all the nations of the world now come. Zechariah 14:16 talks of the nations coming up to Jerusalem to worship the King, and to keep the feast of Tabernacles. We gentiles come to Jerusalem when we come to Christ.
- "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:
- Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
God has always used feasts as figures, and instituted ceremonies to demonstrate Christ. When the nation of Israel journeyed in the wilderness from Egypt, God used the figure of a rock to demonstrate Christ. Israel received water from a Rock that was struck. In this, God was painting a spiritual picture that "metaphorically," Christ was that Rock, and it is He that brings was smitten to bring true waters forth for us (by His stripes we are Healed) that we may be sustained in the wilderness (desolate places).
1st Corinthians 10:2-5
The scriptures are replete with correlations between historical Israel and its journey in the wilderness to the promised land, and the Church, who is spiritual Israel, and theirs. The Rock from which water came after it was smitten, "signified" Christ. And so all the theologians who are objecting to God speaking spiritually or taking these scriptures metaphorically, as they are written, are not really hearing what they are reading in scripture. For these things are spiritually discerned. Things which are fulfilled in Christ.
- "And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
- And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
- And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
- But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness."
So what manner of man will be siting and waiting for that which has already come? What man will be waiting for the fulfillment of that which has already been fulfilled? The Kingdom of God has come (as Jesus told the Priests and Pharisees), and thus Satan has been cast out by the power of God. The Millennial reign of Christ's kingdom has begun, and He has already set the captives free. Those who have been called and chosen of God have been translated from the power of darkness in Satan's domain, into this Kingdom of Christ. It's not done with smoke and mirrors, it's the unadulterated living Word of God.
Who then is looking for a coming reign of Christ and a righteous kingdom that has already come? Who is looking for a future King that we'll serve in this kingdom, when Christ has already established His kingdom and the elect already serve in it? Who is looking for a binding of Satan which "had" to be at the cross, or else none of us could have been set free (Matt. 12:28-29) from Satan. The fact is, the captivity of Israel has been delivered, Peace has come, Christ does have a kingdom, Israel is safe from her enemies, God has come down to dwell with men, and they do reign with Christ as kings and Priests unto their God. And if that is true, then Israel is keeping the feast of Tabernacles. The one week in the Covenant, which Daniel 9 said Messiah would confirm, is the New Covenant with Israel.
- "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."
And the unavoidable fact is, Christ has no more feasts left to fulfill. He fulfilled all the feast days by the sacrifice of Himself on the cross. He's not coming back to go to the cross a second time to make sacrifice for Tabernacles, therefore all feasts were fulfilled in His broken body. The historical ceremonies were everlasting laws "looking forward" to the true, which is Christ. So when He came as the antitype, the shadows passed away. He is the true tabernacle that the Olive branch tabernacles that sheltered the Children of Israel prefigured. So how say some that this feast is yet to be fulfilled in Christ, as if any efficacy could still be made later on. He made complete the deliverance of Israel, and set the captivity free from bondage. We can rejoice that by his work on the cross, we are keeping those ceremonial laws faithfully, in the true, which is Christ. And this period is the New Covenant period between deliverance and inheritance.
The New Covenant With Israel! Confirmed by Christ's Death Knowing many of these things gives us a better insight into why God uses the phrase "The last day" in scripture only in connection with either the end of the World, or with the feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:18; John 6:39, 6:40, 6:44, 6:54, 7:37, 11:24; 12:48). Nowhere else in scripture is that phrase ever used. With each spiritual puzzle piece we get a little better understanding of why God uses the feast of Tabernacles as the "end of year" harvest gathering our labors out of the field, and why Christ said in parables, the harvest "is" the end of the world. We can better understand why the resurrection is "the last day," and why the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles God called "the last day, the great day of the feast." We can better understand why when Israel was freed from bondage, they had to spend time in the wilderness as strangers in tabernacles, their temporary homes before they could enter into their inheritance. It was a "type" of our walk in the wilderness in tabernacles before we come into our inheritance, and it was to take place one week. The Word of God is like a gigantic Spiritual picture puzzle and when you have it right, every piece fits perfectly. There are no pieces left over, nor are you missing any pieces, nor are there pieces that don't fit or conform to the picture. That's how you know that you have come to truth. When you have harmony and agreement and consistency throughout scripture. On the other hand, inconsistency is the hallmark of error. The Bible is its own interpreter. As Righteous Joseph said, "Do not interpretations belong to God?" indeed they do. Through faith in God's word, comparing scripture with scripture, we can come to receive what God has written and wants us to know. No wresting or twisting scripture is necessary, for the truth is in harmony with the Bible. The New Covenant period is our walk in tabernacles secured by the burnt sacrifice prefigured in Israel's ceremonial laws. It is only by careful study of the scriptures that we will come to the knowledge of these truths.
2nd Timothy 2:15
In these times when there is so much apostasy and unrighteousness in the Church, and it appears that we are very near the second advent and end of the world. We need to study scripture with an even greater eye/ear to receive what it says. So much of the eschatology in scripture has been misunderstood, ignored, twisted, and interpreted in any way that theologians see fit, that it's become thoroughly confusing to many. It is time to return to a healthy reverential fear of the Lord, by keeping His Word faithfully. God requires faithfulness. No, it's not the reason anyone is saved, but it is one of the "evidences" of salvation. As 2nd Timothy 2 declares, we need to rightly judge or divide God's Word. That passage illustrates three things to us.
- "Study to Shew thyself approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, Rightly dividing the Word of Truth."
The Bible is The Word of God, and through the Holy Spirit of God in us, it testifies of itself that it is true and trustworthy. Likewise, His Spirit witnesses with ours that we are true children of God. The feast of Tabernacles is our celebration right now, as we dwell in Christ.
- We can rightly understand God's Word.
- We must study it in order to "rightly" do so.
- If we don't, we "will" have need to be ashamed.
All the signs are in place for the soon coming of the Lord. Strengthen the things that remain. Keep the feast of Tabernacles by the knowledge that this world is not your home, nor are the unsaved people your true family. In reality, you are a stranger and pilgrim here just passing through. But God has given you a job to do while you are here, so let us evangelize without indolence, diligently, in service to the King. Israel living and eating in the [cukkah] or tabernacle was a reminder to them, and to us, that though Christ be with us, our Olive branch house on this earth is only a temporary habitation. The true tabernacle will be opened in heaven. As Israel wandered forty years in the wilderness and had to rely completely on the Lord, so in their ceremonies we are reminded of our temporary habitation and how we also must trust completely in God and look towards our permanent home.
The biblical feasts were instituted in order to teach the Church, in a practical way, how God would fulfill His prophesies in the broken body of Christ. The three annual feasts help us to understand that because of the death of Christ, we are without sin, without judgement before God (feast of unleavened bread). And because of the death of Christ, we have the firstfruits of the Spirit (Feast of firstfruits, or Pentecost). And because of the death of Christ, we dwell in the tabernacle not made with hands (feast of tabernacles) on our journey to the promised land. In these feasts we understand more clearly of the nature of God and what was His eternal plan for His people.
The feast of Tabernacles was a ceremony to teach the nations the Biblical history of redemption and remains as a perpetual feast for all the elect today. In Old Testament Israel, the people pitched tabernacles in the wilderness, but the true tabernacle that it pointed to, was Christ. And there is ample evidence to show that Zechariah chapter 14 is an introduction to the millennial period when Christ establishes His Kingdom in the liberation of Jerusalem, and becomes king over all the earth as the nations keep His laws. The type that the feast of booths typified has been fulfilled in Christ. The Lord has done all that is necessary to bring His Covenant people into a full relationship with Christ. The only completion that remains is the end of the world, in the opening of the tabernacle in heaven. For now we will dwell in His divine presence on earth, and hold in remembrance our deliverance from bondage, in these tabernacles of flesh.
- "A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man."
May the God of Mercy bless your efforts to bring others up to that Glorious Holy City.
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Copyright ©1993 Tony Warren
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