The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles held by believing Jews is also referred to as “Sukkot” (Winner p.1). This feast and its celebrations are held in December and usually lasts a week until the next Sabbath. To celebrate, outside the home or synagogue the Jews will normally construct a hut outside which they stay in for the events. Winner explains the hut on p.1 of the article:
“It will probably be less than 30 feet tall and made of plywood, with three walls. It will be decorated with leaves, gourds and bunches of grapes, possibly strung with lights. The roof will be translucent (you can see at least a few stars if you stand in the hut at night). There's sure to be a picnic table or a card table set up inside. The hut will be a little flimsy; it might sway if the wind gets too vigorous. It will, to the uninitiated, look strange.”
As you can imagine this all may sound a little strange, but the celebration brings to reality the harshness of the way of life for the Jews during their 40 years of wandering before entering into the promise land. During this time, they stayed in huts much like this for most of the journey. The holiday and feasts also pose as a thanksgiving for the harvest that was brought in for the year and thanks to God for it all. It is definitely a celebration of prospering from what God has given.
The summary of this celebration and its relationship to Jesus is quite evident through his teachings. Jesus fulfills the symbolism of the Feast of Tabernacles in many ways. He is seen participating in this feast according John 7:2-3 where he is asked to go by his brothers.
“2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do.”
Later in verses 10-11 he is recorded by John as going “in secret” to the Festival. At the festival while teaching, Jesus makes several references to Moses who gave the law to the Jews from God and led them through the wilderness which the feast was based on. According to an article called “Camping Out” by UCG.org, Jesus “dwelt” among us during his time on earth, which refers to John 1:14 and that “dwelt” there means that he “tabernacled” among us (p.1). On page 76 of our text John: Believe And Live by Dr. Elmer Towns, he is noted speaking of Jesus during the festival making the announcements found in John 7:37-38 during the time the priest would go to the pool of Siloam then to the Alter of the temple as the people watched. His statements about himself and the Holy Spirit took many by shock.
“38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Scriptures based during the Feast of Tabernacles prove to me that the many elements that Jesus represented for this celebration are true. In my opinion, the whole purpose of this feast represented a thanksgiving time much like our Thanksgiving today. I believe this is in direct kinship of this feast and celebration only ours has been drawn back to more secular roots. If the thanksgiving theme is correct, then Jesus was truly something to be thankful for. We did not deserve a Messiah or the Redeeming blood of Christ. However, this would have been the perfect time to be thankful to God for this blessing and abundance on us in a time when “rivers of living water” would come from heaven. I thank God for his blessings on me and my family. Perhaps that should be the subject of all of our thanksgiving celebrations this holiday season.
Seilglie, Mario. The Good News Magazine: The Biblical Festivals That Teach Us About Jesus Christ. http://www.ucg.org/holidays-and-holy-days/biblical-festivals-teach-us-about-jesus-christ/
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
Morris, L. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970.
Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Twenty-First Century Biblical Commentary Series. Nashville: AMG, 2002
Winner, Lauren. 2005. "Camping out." Christian Century 122, no. 21: 8. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost