We were so incredibly blessed this year by our first celebration of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Ingathering.
It is a 7 day celebration and the 8th day is an extra day to mark the turning over of the Torah reading for the year.
The Biblical Feasts can be a beautiful opportunity to learn His Word, history, and to honor G-d Most High. The Spring Feasts are ones Christ fulfilled in His first coming; Passover, Feast of First Fruits, Pentecost... the Fall Feasts are ones He will fulfill during His second coming; Trumpets, Tabernacles, etc.
Once we started researching the significance of these festivals, and also learned that historically speaking, in regard to when John the Baptist was born, it is highly likely that our Savior was actually born during the Feast of Tabernacles, we were hooked. In a great way! Let us celebrate our Lord!!
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15:5
"You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat;" -Deuteronomy 16:13
"Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me." -Exodus 23:14
"'Then on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work, and you shall observe a feast to the LORD for seven days." -Numbers 29:12
"'Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days." -Leviticus 23:40
What do all these verses mean today, for us, as Christians? Weren't these things just "for them" and not "for us"? Or... are we All One?
What really encouraged me most to embrace the celebration and symbolism of observing the Feast of Booths, was, the fact that according to Scripture, we WILL be celebrating this feast with Christ when He returns!!! It's right here, in Zechariah, in the context of Christ's return and reign on earth:
"Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths." -Zechariah 14:16-19
That was amazing to me. If we will be celebrating Sukkot when He returns, why aren't we now? For that matter, I didn't even know how to celebrate it! Isn't that reason enough to learn all about it? What is this feast we will be observing with our Lord when He comes again? I was beyond eager to know more!
"All the earth bows down to You; they sing praise to You, they sing the praises of Your Name." -Psalm 66:4
Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles
"In Y'shua (Jesus), God tabernacled among us. He chose to be born into a less-than-glorious space, where certainly the stars might have peeked through the cracks in the roof, the elements might well have invaded. Nevertheless, in that lowly place dwelt the glorious presence of God, wrapped--the transient and the eternal beautifully coming together in God's provision and God's presence." -David Brickner
We ordered a real Lulav and etrog from Israel! Just as it is described in Scripture. It really made our lessons come to life. The lulav has much symbolism as well. It represents many things, including our hearts. With the blessings, tradition is to shake it in all directions, to remind us that G-d Is Everywhere. They consist of "four species": the etrog is a citron fruit, similar to a lemon, sweet smelling and said to represent our hearts; the lulav is the palm branches (our spines); myrtle branches (our eyes); and willow branches (the mouth). Another interpretation, according to David Brickner in his book "Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles", is that, like the Sukkot booth, the four species represent the four types of terrain that Israel covered during the forty years wandering the wilderness. Most importantly, because it is a Harvest festival, these species have to do with returning THANKS to G-d for His provision, faithfulness and promises.
"I am the Light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." -John 8:12
A blessed time of Thanksgiving
There is so much beautiful symbolism in the Biblical Feasts. Sukkot is like all of our favorite holidays mixed together: Thanksgiving, Harvest, Christmas and camping, all together. My husband took the week off from work, and we soaked up EVERY DAY!
The kids had so much fun decorating our backyard sukkah. A sukkah is a booth, a temporary dwelling, a reminder of what the Israelites stayed in during their time in the wilderness. It also reminds us that G-d is our Refugee. He protects and provides. The requirements for the sukkah are that they have 3 walls (any material) and the roof needs to be made of natural materials, such as branches, cornstalks, etc. It needs to offer more shade than sun and provide some light covering from the elements but still allow you to see the stars through it at night.
You are to eat most of your meals in it, open it to serve others, and you can sleep in it as well. (We set up our tent next to it to sleep in, and chose to pray and eat our meals in our sukkah.)
Our activities through the week varied, and of course we invited lots of friends over to come celebrate with us. We made beef and turkey pasty for the first night during a lunar eclipse supermoon, which was a wonderful way to tie in our fall tradition of making pasty from our Finnish heritage. The next night, we had more than half a dozen families out--we served a big roaster pan of turkey chili. It was great to see all the kids playing, learning and coloring tabernacle pictures in the sukkah, and playing with our Tabernacle model.
"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." -Matthew 4:19
"He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark." -Psalm 91:4"
On the first night of Sukkot, during the lunar eclipse, it was really CLOUDY. "He obscures the face of the full moon And spreads His cloud over it." -Job 26:9 We could only see portions of the amazing moon during periodic breaks with the friends we had over. We used that to our advantage the next day at our homeschool co-op, in the Weather Science class I am teaching this semester. We studied the types of clouds, and G-d's design of them.
Also, during this week, I borrowed the idea from some friends to speak of the clouds that Scripture describe for the very Israelites we are remembering during Sukkot!
"The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." -Exodus 13:21-22
Mid-week, we were invited to a friend's sukkah!!! It is such a fabulous blessing to learn and grow and celebrate with friends. It was such a comfort of family. Fellowship is a thing of beauty.
Another exciting aspect of celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles was a deeper understanding of when Christ called Himself the Living Water. John 7 explains Jesus attending the Feast of Tabernacles. It was during the water pouring ceremony of the Feast that Christ said the thirsty shall come to Him for a drink of Living Water. Mayim Chayim. Hallelujah! We believe!
On the last night of Sukkot, we were blessed to attend an end of tabernacle celebration at Tree of Life in Grand Rapids. They had awesome games, food, fellowship and joyous worship of Adonai. Words can't really describe the embracing beauty of Holy Spirit we felt that night, so I won't try. I will just say, Scripture describes the Feast of Booths as a true time of rejoicing, and we absolutely found deep JOY.
"The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day And there was great rejoicing. He read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day And they celebrated the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance." -Nehemiah 8:17-18