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How Does Jesus Symbolize And Fulfill The Feast Of Tabernacles?

In Zechariah 14:16-19 it is prophesied that, after Jesus returns, people of all nations, this includes all non-Jewish people—gentiles, will come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in order “to worship the King, the Lord of hosts [the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus]” (see also Lev. 23:29-43 NKJV). The Feast of Tabernacles was given, as law, as an act of worship in acknowledgement of God’s life giving provisions during the Jew’s exodus from Egypt into the Promised Land. These provisions were important to the Jews, as well as the Gentiles in times to come under the New Covenant, because Father provides all of the necessities of life, including food (physical food for the Jews of ancient times, and spiritual food, the Bread of Life, under God’s New Covenant). God provided physical bread (manna) during the Jew’s sojourn through the wilderness, and He provided the Bread of Life (Jesus) for all who believe unto Him (the entire gospel of John). Father provided physical water during the 40 years of wandering, and spiritual, eternal life-giving water, under the New Covenant. He provided physical shelter, the small tabernacles (tents) that the Jews lived in, and He provides spiritual safety (His covering) under the New Covenant (James 4: 7-9). The New Testament application is that both Jews and Gentiles will be delivered from the modern day, symbolic, Egypt, if they believe unto Jesus.

            The Feast of Tabernacles was observed both in remembrance of from where the Jews had come--as well as their belief that the Messiah would deliver them from Roman oppression, and be their Provider of all things, both in the natural and in the spiritual realms.

            This coincides with Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, one week prior to Passover, as the recognized King of the Jews (John 12:13; Mark 11:10). The people took palm branches, which symbolized God’s covering over their tabernacles (booths, tents) and waived at Jesus, who, at least temporarily, was their recognized King.[1] Later, many of those who waived Him in as their King, lost faith and chose Barabbas, a criminal, over Him.

            Another important symbolism of The Feast of Tabernacles, as seen in Jesus, was the use of lights to illuminate the darkness of the wilderness (John 18:12). Father’s Shekinah Glory Cloud[2] appeared to the Jews both day and night, during their exodus toward the Promised Land, as a symbol that He was, and is, with His children both day and night, and it is only through Him that we can see our way to  eternal life (The entire Gospel of John, key words: believe and life). The Jewish worshipers would light torches and candles during this time in remembrance of Him who brings salvation. Many Christians do the same thing today—not as a matter of law, but as a matter of remembrance of our deliverance from the symbolic Egypt, from which we were delivered.  It is as Matthew Henry wrote: “It is not enough to look at this light, and to gaze upon it, but we must follow it, believe in it, and walk in it, for it is a light to our feet, not our eyes only”.[3] Mal Couch and Ed Hindson point out; there are two words for “light”. The Greek word phos is “…reserved in this gospel [John] for the true light” (John 1:8).[4] This is not just a transitory light (Greek luchnos), but an eternal light of salvation through Jesus our Christ (Messiah).

            Leon Morris makes an interesting point, garnered from Augustine, about how neither “light” nor “life” exists within us, independently of the Source of both truth and life:

We do not have physical light within ourselves, but require an external source of light [God]: ‘since you remain in darkness when the candle is withdrawn, you have not light within yourselves.”’ So it is with life, Morris continues, we do not have life within ourselves. But God does…Later, when Jesus speaks of himself as the “bread of life” and says that he “gives life to the world” (6:33) he is claiming to be the source [and sustainer] of life for all the race. It is much the same when he says that he is the light of the world and that anyone who follows him “will have the light of life” (John 8:12), he goes beyond that when he says that he is himself “the life” John 11:25; 14:6).[5]

            For the Old Testament Jews, the Feast of Tabernacles represented a celebration in remembrance that God provided everything they needed for the sustaining of life. They celebrated this, at the harvest time, when the fruits of their labor could be used both in the present time--and also stored up in their warehouses for future, physical life. From the time of Jesus’ glorification, on the cross, when He fulfilled the old Mosaic Covenant, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection symbolizes everything needed to sustain life both now, and into eternity. He is the “Bread of Life”. The world believes that death is permanent, and life is temporary. But because of our Bread of Life, and because the symbolic Feast of Tabernacles was fulfilled once and for all times, by Jesus--Christians know that just the opposite is true; death is not permanent; it is temporary, and life is not temporary; it is permanent—whether with Father, or separated from Him…life is permanent.

           


[1] The Feast of Tabernacles, also called Booths, comes on the fifteenth of Tishri (September-October), the seventh month according to the Jewish (biblical) calendar. This was the third feast that required a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple and offer sacrifices and offering to the Lord. Title of article: The Jewish Feasts: The Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) Sukkoth. Retrieved from: . http://bible-truth.org/Feasts-Tabernacles.html

 

[2] “The word Shekinah does not appear in the Bible, but the concept clearly does. The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, a form of a Hebrew word that literally means "he caused to dwell," signifying that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of JEHOVAH God on this earth. The Shekinah was first evident when the Israelites set out from Succoth in their escape from Egypt. There it appeared as a cloudy pillar in the day and a fiery pillar by night: “After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people” (Exodus 13:20-22). Retrieved from: http://www.gotquestions.org/shekinah-glory.html Name of article: “What is the Shekinah glory”, Author: unknown.

[3] Matthew Henry’s Commentary on The Whole Bible. Titled “John 8”. Retrieved from: http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/...

[4] Elmer Towns (Ed), written by: Mel Couch & Ed Hindson (2002, p. 53), AMG Publishers: Chattanooga, TN,  John,  Believe And Live

[5] Leon Morris (1989) Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids MI. 105-106 Jesus is the Christ

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