“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sukkot (Feast of tabernacles)

Leviticus 23:33 – 44 - And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD. On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. For seven days you shall present food offerings to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work. "These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, besides the LORD's Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD. "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God." Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the LORD.

DISCLAIMER -- Before I continue with this post on Sukkot, I felt it necessary to explain myself a bit. I do not believe that these feasts must be celebrated by the church, nor do I think that one is ‘extra-spiritual’ by observing the feasts. I believe that the feasts are part of our heritage and may be used to teach about the Messiah. Please read these posts with this in mind./DISCLAIMER

Sukkot finishes out this Feasts; I hope that through these posts on the Feasts you were able to see clearly how God’s plan of redemption is perfectly fulfilled by Messiah. The time of Sukkot is a time of joy, contrasted with Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. These two earlier Feasts are a somber time, focusing on judgment, whereas Sukkot is joyous, and celebrative. In this post I hope to show how this final feast is a picture of the Feast we will celebrate with Messiah in eternity!

The Talmud teaches that, in the days of the temple, if you had not been to Jerusalem for the celebration of Sukkot, then you had never witnessed true joy (Sukkah 5), remember this as you read through this post.

BIRTH OF THE MESSIAH

First, let me start by painting the significance of Tabernacles in the birth of Messiah: God established the feasts as a symbol of His great plan of redemption; Messiah was crucified on Pesach, John the Baptist was born at Pesach, Messiah was raised on Yom HaBikkurim, the Church was born on Shavuot. We see God using the ordained times that He laid out in the Old Testament for all of these events, why would we believe that the birth of the Messiah not be in that pattern?

Let’s examine this idea that the Messiah was born at this time. It says in Luke 2 - And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. The Romans, as we know from history, ran a very tight ship, to use a colloquialism, so when would they choose to perform a census? If we look at history, the Romans had a tendency to perform these types of censuses around the holidays of the subjugated people. It is a logistical nightmare to do this at a random time, especially if there were already times when the people gathered together to celebrate a holiday.

Therefore, when all of the people were heading to Jerusalem for a sacred holiday, it would be easy for them to be gathered into one place for registration. There were three times when this would occur in the cycle of Feasts – Unleavened Bread; Shavuot (isn’t it interesting that God chose this Feast to birth the Church?); and Tabernacles. Recent discoveries have shed new light on these censuses. The census played a part, but was possibly not the sole reason for Joseph's journey. As it turns out, the census was not something that had to be done by a specific date. It wasn't like filing taxes - do it by April 15th or face the consequences. We know from recent discoveries that these censuses went on for quite some time - in many cases over several years.

So, if not to meet the deadline for registration, why would Joseph risk a long, hard, dangerous journey with a wife about to give birth? If you have plenty of time for this census, then there is little likelihood that you would endanger your family like this. Is there another feasible explanation for a journey at this point in time? Since Sukkot is one of the Feasts that required Joseph’s presence in Jerusalem, it would make sense to make the trek at that time, and since Mary and Joseph would have been going to Jerusalem, a mere 5 miles from Bethlehem, for the festival, it would be reasonable to assume that they would make the relatively short side trip to attend to the census registration as well.

Being that Bethlehem is only a few miles from Jerusalem; people would have been gathered there to head into Jerusalem for the Sukkot. Hence, there would be no rooms available, as the Jews from the entire countryside returned to Jerusalem for the Feast.

Also, the shepherds probably would not be watching their flocks by night in December; it would be a much more natural event during the time of Sukkot. In the Talmud it states that sheep should be put up in sheepfolds, or pens, from November to February. An interesting factoid about the Bethlehem sheep is that they were raised specifically to be used in the Temple sacrifices. The area where the shepherd’s would have been watching their flocks was known as Migdal Adar, or the Tower of the Flock.

Let us look into Scripture; Micah 4:1 – 8 talks of the days of Messiah; It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever. In that day, declares the LORD, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore. And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.

In first century Israel, the people were looking for the Messiah. The fact that Messiah was to be born in Beit Lechem was a settled conviction amongst the people. Equally so was the belief that His birth was to be revealed from Migdal-Eder, the tower of the flock. (See above Micah Scripture). In fact, Jewish and Rabbinical tradition named Migdal-Eder as the place where the long awaited announcement of the coming of the Savior would occur. In answer to that very tradition, the scriptures tell us that, upon hearing this from the heavens, and seeing the child laying in the manger, the shepherds "made known abroad all they had heard and seen."

LIVING WATER

John wrote his Gospel around the feasts, showing how Messiah fulfilled them perfectly. In the first few verses of John that he makes allusions to Messiah being born during Tabernacles, John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

And in John 7 we find Messiah going to Sukkot, and during that Feast, making some very bold statements about His Person.

First, a bit of background – in the Jerusalem of Messiah’s day, the people would circle the Temple one time while singing the Hallel (Psalms 113 – 118) each day of the Feast. On the final day of the feast, called Hoshana Rabbah (The Great Hoshanna), the people would circle the Temple seven times. The priest would then go down to the pool of Siloam, outside the ‘water gate’ so named for this ceremony. He would fill a golden pitcher with water from the pool and would return to the altar. At the altar he would ceremoniously pour the water out into a silver basin at the altar. This had a much deeper meaning than simply praying to the Lord for the rains to come during the winter for the next season. In the Talmud, Sukkot 55, we find that this was prophetically illustrating the days of Messianic redemption when the water of the Holy Spirit would be poured out on the people of Israel. The people would be crying out to the Lord to pour His spirit out on them. The rabbis taught of this ceremony that there was a deeper meaning, and it was found in Isaiah 12:3 - Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Interestingly enough, the word for salvation is… Yeshua.

The air would be electric, the people, concluding their seven days of feasting, would be in total worship crying out to the Lord to pour out His Spirit on them, the water would be poured out and (John 7:37, 38) - On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

HEY, wait a minute, who is this itinerant rabbi from the Galil? And we continue; (John 7:40, 41) - Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, "Truly this is the Prophet." Others said, "This is the Christ." Have you ever wondered why these words would cause that reaction amongst the crowd? They understood what He was saying, unlike so many ‘bright scholars' today who say He never claimed to be the Messiah! Yet the blindness of the Pharisees is clearly shown here; (John 7:47, 48) - "Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed."

There are several other passages that the people would have been reciting during this time, all from Isaiah: Isaiah 44:3 - For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring; and again in Isaiah 55:1 - Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. And finally in Isaiah 58:11 - The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

What did Jesus say to the women at the well in John 4? John 4:14 - "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." When we drop our buckets into manmade wells of our own design they eventually come up dry.

Oh, how we need to plumb the depths of the water whereby we will never thirst again!

This time of the pouring of the water, called Simchat Bet Ha Shoevah, or The Rejoicing of the House of Drawing Water, also celebrated how God provided for His people by bringing water out of the rock. Exodus 17:6 - "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. Messiah was saying that the rock that provided sustenance in the wilderness was He! In 1st Corinthians 10:1 - 4 we read this - Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

In today’s synagogues we find a ceremony called, “Taking of the Willow”. It involves the people circling the altar seven times with the lulav (palm branches), waving them, and on the final circuit the branches are beat on the seats and floor of the synagogue while the people chant, “The voice announcing the coming of the messiah is heard.”

What a great and tragic thing it is that Israel is still blinded, but there are signs that she is coming out of the blindness! There is an estimated 1,000,000 Messianic Jews just in the United States and that number is growing all the time. We also know that there are now around 200 Messianic congregations in the United States and another 50 or so in Israel. As we read in Zechariah 12:10 – 13:1 - "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. "In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. "And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; "the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; "all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves. "In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. Messiah said this to Jerusalem in Luke 13:34, 35 - "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! "See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'" May that day come soon!

The final Sukkot is recorded in Revelation 21:1 – 4“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”

What a day of celebration that final Sukkot will be!

4 comments:

BugBlaster said...

Thanks Ray! This was excellent.

The blindness is falling away. No one knows the number of true believers, but if estimate the 1,000,000 Messianic Jews in the U.S. is close, then the ratio of Messianic Jews worldwide to the total number of Jews worldwide (12 million or so?), may be close to or even better than that of the nations.

Ray said...

I know -- it is hard for me to fathom that we could have that many Messianic Jews in the US!

Anonymous said...

FOR THE PROPHET ISAIAH 19:19 SAYS THAT IN THAT DAY THERE WILL BE AN ALTAR TO THE LORD IN THE HEART OF EGYPT.I AM THEREFORE PLACING THIS AS A BANNER ON THE HILLS OF THE INTERNET.YES,THE ALTAR IS IN THE LAND OF THE SOFT SKINNED CUSHITES IN EAST AFRICA,TANZANIA.IT IS A REPLICA OF THE ALTAR THAT WAS IN ISRAEL.WE EGYPTIANS ARE A BLESSING TO THE NATIONS AS GOD'S PEOPLE.THAT IS WHY I INVITE YOU TO VISIT THIS FIGURATIVE ALTAR ie ,IF YOUR HEART IS SET ON PILGRIM.YOU WILL LEARN ALOT IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE INTERESTED.IF YOU CANNOT BE ABLE TO MAKE IT OVER TO TANZANIA,FOR THE FEAST OF THE TABERNACLES CEREMONY,YOU WILL STILL BE ABLE TO DO THE CEREMONY WITH US IN YOUR BOOTH AT YOUR HOME.YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO PROPHECY FOR THE DOWNFALL OF 'YERICO' FOR SEVEN DAYS.ON THE SEVENTH DAY YOU WILL PROPHECY SEVEN TIMES AND GIVE A GREAT SHOUT AFTER THE SEVENTH PROPHECY,AND DOWN WILL COME THE WALLS OF 'YERICO'.'YERICO' IS ANYTHING THAT GOES AGAINST THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN HERE ON EARTH.ANYTHING OR ANYONE WHO STANDS AGAINST OUR SUCCESS TO GET INTO THE PROMISED LAND,ALL THE ENEMIES OF ISRAEL,.THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD PROPHECY/AGAINST THEIR: elders,leaders,prophets,jobs,enterprises,teachers,lifes,future,clans,altars,temples,horses,horsemen,armies,weapons,
properties,governments,associations,properties,wealth,health,strength,eyesight,sanity,fortresses,plans,refuge,
priests,sorcery,sorcerers,families,enchanters,enchantments,spiritists,mediums,feasts,witchcraft,witchdoctors,
investments,treasusres,treasuries,plantations,pillars,farms,success,idols,strongholds,gods,faith,helpers and the whole lot of them together with their ancestors and descendants.YOU SHOULD NOT LEAVE ANY STONE UNTURNED.DO NOT FORGET BABYLON AND THE BEASTS THAT ARE AGAINST THE SERVANTS OF THE TRUE HEAVENLYLY LORD GOD OF ISRAEL,,the whole lot of them,you should dash into pieces like pottery and into the finest dust and again the whole lot of them together with their gods and all evil spirits throw them into the fierest point in the feiry lake of burning sulfur.THIS PROPHECYING SHOULD CONTINUE FOREVER.YES,WE SHALL REIGN WITH THE LORD FOR A THOUSAND YEARS ,O YOU NATION OF PRIESTS,O,KING DAVID.ALSO THIS IS THE SACRIFICE AND OFFERING EXPECTED OF YOU EACH MORNING AND EACH EVENING FROM NOW ON.YET ON THE DAYS OF THE FEAST OF THE TABERNACLES YOU WILL PROPHECY AND CELEBRATE WITH,MUSIC,TUMBERINE,STRINGED INSTRUMENTS, DRINK,CHOICE FOODS,PALM BRANCHES AND FRUIT.WAVE THESE BEFORE THE LORD.READ THE SCRIPTURES FROM THE FIRST PAGE TO THE LAST,TO FILL IN YOUR MEMBER THE WORD OF GOD.IT WILL BE A MEMORABLE FESTIVAL.HALLELUYAH,HOSSANA!
EVERYONE WHO IS AGAINST OUR SUCCESS AND PROSPERITY HERE ON EARTH,WILL BE DESTROYED.THERE IS A SONG WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS,LEARN IT BY HEART.IT IS TIME TO SING IT,FOR GREAT AND MARVELLOUS ARE THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY'S DEEDS.spread these good news.

Margaret Wanjiku Mbuli said...

FOR THE PROPHET ISAIAH 19:19 SAYS THAT IN THAT DAY THERE WILL BE AN ALTAR TO THE LORD IN THE HEART OF EGYPT.I AM THEREFORE PLACING THIS AS A BANNER ON THE HILLS OF THE INTERNET.YES,THE ALTAR IS IN THE LAND OF THE SOFT SKINNED CUSHITES IN EAST AFRICA,TANZANIA.IT IS A REPLICA OF THE ALTAR THAT WAS IN ISRAEL.WE EGYPTIANS ARE A BLESSING TO THE NATIONS AS GOD'S PEOPLE.THAT IS WHY I INVITE YOU TO VISIT THIS FIGURATIVE ALTAR ie ,IF YOUR HEART IS SET ON PILGRIM.YOU WILL LEARN ALOT IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE INTERESTED.IF YOU CANNOT BE ABLE TO MAKE IT OVER TO TANZANIA,FOR THE FEAST OF THE TABERNACLES CEREMONY,YOU WILL STILL BE ABLE TO DO THE CEREMONY WITH US IN YOUR BOOTH AT YOUR HOME.YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO PROPHECY FOR THE DOWNFALL OF 'YERICO' FOR SEVEN DAYS.ON THE SEVENTH DAY YOU WILL PROPHECY SEVEN TIMES AND GIVE A GREAT SHOUT AFTER THE SEVENTH PROPHECY,AND DOWN WILL COME THE WALLS OF 'YERICO'.'YERICO' IS ANYTHING THAT GOES AGAINST THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN HERE ON EARTH.ANYTHING OR ANYONE WHO STANDS AGAINST OUR SUCCESS TO GET INTO THE PROMISED LAND,ALL THE ENEMIES OF ISRAEL,.THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD PROPHECY/AGAINST THEIR: elders,leaders,prophets,jobs,enterprises,teachers,lifes,future,clans,altars,temples,horses,horsemen,armies,weapons,
properties,governments,associations,properties,wealth,health,strength,eyesight,sanity,fortresses,plans,refuge,
priests,sorcery,sorcerers,families,enchanters,enchantments,spiritists,mediums,feasts,witchcraft,witchdoctors,
investments,treasusres,treasuries,plantations,pillars,farms,success,idols,strongholds,gods,faith,helpers and the whole lot of them together with their ancestors and descendants.YOU SHOULD NOT LEAVE ANY STONE UNTURNED.DO NOT FORGET BABYLON AND THE BEASTS THAT ARE AGAINST THE SERVANTS OF THE TRUE HEAVENLYLY LORD GOD OF ISRAEL,,the whole lot of them,you should dash into pieces like pottery and into the finest dust and again the whole lot of them together with their gods and all evil spirits throw them into the fierest point in the feiry lake of burning sulfur.THIS PROPHECYING SHOULD CONTINUE FOREVER.YES,WE SHALL REIGN WITH THE LORD FOR A THOUSAND YEARS ,O YOU NATION OF PRIESTS,O,KING DAVID.ALSO THIS IS THE SACRIFICE AND OFFERING EXPECTED OF YOU EACH MORNING AND EACH EVENING FROM NOW ON.YET ON THE DAYS OF THE FEAST OF THE TABERNACLES YOU WILL PROPHECY AND CELEBRATE WITH,MUSIC,TUMBERINE,STRINGED INSTRUMENTS, DRINK,CHOICE FOODS,PALM BRANCHES AND FRUIT.WAVE THESE BEFORE THE LORD.READ THE SCRIPTURES FROM THE FIRST PAGE TO THE LAST,TO FILL IN YOUR MEMBER THE WORD OF GOD.IT WILL BE A MEMORABLE FESTIVAL.HALLELUYAH,HOSSANA!
EVERYONE WHO IS AGAINST OUR SUCCESS AND PROSPERITY HERE ON EARTH,WILL BE DESTROYED.THERE IS A SONG WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS,LEARN IT BY HEART.IT IS TIME TO SING IT,FOR GREAT AND MARVELLOUS ARE THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY'S DEEDS.margaret.wanjiku72@yahoo.com