Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles as Christians

September 18, 2021


feast of tabernacles

Did you know the grandest celebration found in Scripture is what we pattern our Thanksgiving after?

Did you know God has a plan for us to see the scarlet thread of His Son Jesus coming again and it is all pictured in the Sukkot Celebration?

And did you know we as Christians are invited to celebrate this each year?

This was all so foreign to me until I started researching for myself what is up with the ‘Jewish’ celebrations?  Actually they are not “Jewish’ celebrations - they are called in Scripture: Feast of our Lord!  Well that changes it for me.

Another exciting fact - the Feast of Sukkot or also known as Tabernacles is a picture of the final coming of our Lord!

Now I am getting ahead of myself. Please continue to read as this story unfolds. Plus, at the end I share 4 ways your family can celebrate every year.

Fall Jewish Festivals

Fall is a beautiful time of year. Not just because of cooler weather, changing leaves, and an abundant fall harvest. Fall is when Jewish people celebrate. And celebrate they do! Two other festivals culminate in the final one we’re covering today. Sukkot: celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles as Christians.

I hope you watched the videos or caught the blog posts about the first two fall Feasts of the Lord: The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), meant to announce something is about to happen, and the Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur), which focuses on forgiveness of sins.

Now the final celebration: Sukkot, also called the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths. 

This is the final celebration, the Grande Finale, and has the sweetest story. The story of God’s amazing grace! A story of celebrating God’s deliverance.

As followers of Christ, we are not required by the Old Covenant laws to celebrate, instead we are invited to celebrate!

While most Christians focus on Christmas and Easter to do this, we are missing a blessing if we aren’t familiar with and celebrate the Feasts of the Lord found in Scripture.

I believe these festival days - holy days - hold the great promises of the Lord and opportunities to draw ever closer to Him. And a party is happening to celebrate his promises, so let’s join in.

Sukkot 2021

So, you might be asking, when is Sukkot (or the Feast of Tabernacles)?

Great question! This year, (2021) Sukkot begins at sundown on Monday, September 20 and goes through sundown on Monday, September 27.

What Is The Feast Of Tabernacles

I hope you’ve marked your calendar for the Feast of Tabernacles! It’s right upon us. (I’d recommend putting a reminder in your phone to prepare next year for all of the High Holy Days.)

I like to refer to this feast as the Great I Am Feasts! 

Feast of Tabernacles in the New Testament

sukkot

This is because the one mention of the Feast of Booths in the New Testament is found in John 7:2, which precedes a series of “I Am” statements Jesus made in Judea while there during the celebration.

Here are several “I Am” statements (which are just a few He made that are recorded throughout the Gospels) made. 

Take a moment and marvel at who Jesus is!

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12

While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” John 9:5

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:7

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own, and My own know Me.” John 10:14

The Feast of Tabernacles, according to Leviticus 23, lasts for 7 days and then on the 8th day is the assembly like no other.

This is triumph and jubilation! 

We have fasted, prayed, and sought the Lord. Now we get to celebrate!

Feast Of Tabernacles In The Bible

It’s names come from different references to this celebration in the Old Testament.

Feast of Booths comes from Leviticus 23:33-44.

Feast of Ingathering comes from Exodus 23:14-17.

The Feast of Sukkot comes from 1 Kings 8:1-2.

Deuteronomy says to be joyful at your feast. No frowns allowed!

This feast is a time when all believers of every nation will one day come to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts during the Messiah’s reign.

The feasts and celebrations of the Bible are “dress rehearsals.” They point us toward the Lord and His promises, the greatest of which is His return to reign.

The world will worship God as Creator, Preserver and Governor of all things.

One place (of many) is in Zechariah 14:9.

The LORD will be King over the whole earth; on that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name!!!

Celebrating Sukkot: The Feast Of Tabernacles

celebrating sukkot

There are many wonderful reasons to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles as Christians. Here, I give my top 4. I hope you’re as excited as I am and make this a season of great celebration.

1. This is fun! 

Are you ready to go camping? Even if you are a hotel person? God instructed the people to live in tents for 7 days. A sukkah. These were temporary shelters made with very specific instructions.

This was to be a reminder of the exodus as the people lived in tents while wandering. 

God never wants us to forget what has happened. What He has done for us.

We get comfortable and self-centered. 

God, in His amazing faithfulness, provided consistent reminders of what He has done. 

This is not about us. It’s about reminding our families of all that God has done for us through His mercy, grace, and love. 

Families would wave branches as fun for 7 days. 

This is more than the Palm Sunday that is celebrated. Palm Sunday remembers the people anticipating the coming of the Lord into His reign.

The celebration of Sukkot reminds us that He is here! He is among us.

2. This is memorable.

it is memorable

It was at this feast when Jesus declared the 3 “I Am” statements. (Remember them from above?)

He also healed a blind man. 

Then, on the final day, He stunned the priests with an astonishing claim: 

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38

Sukkot Traditions

There are 2 rituals that took place during this celebration: 

  • water
  • light

The priest drew water and carried it in jugs to the temple. The people chanted along their route:

“Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

Yet, at that precise moment Jesus stood up and declared:

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, from his heart will flow rivers of living waters.” John 7:37-38 paraphrased

The other ritual was the lighting of the temple. 

Many travelers came with lighted torches that illuminated miles around Jerusalem. Just imagine. How powerful that light would have been!

In my early days as a believer, we'd sing the song, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” While singing, we'd light candles and the entire room would glow.

Well, here we see the entire mountainous region aglow!

Thousands of Jewish people held these lighted torches. And yet, Jesus stands up and says – for all to hear…..

“I am the light of the world, he who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” John 8:12b

This is memorable. 

Take these two “I Am” statements and reenact them with your family. 

Find a jug of water, have someone play the priest drawing water and the others follow along as he walks to the temple chanting the words of praise from Isaiah. Use flashlights or candles as lights. 

Then have someone play the part of Jesus and stand on a chair, making the declarations of “I am.”

The more we reenact stories and go through these dress rehearsals, the more we’ll plant in our children’s hearts and minds who Jesus is in a way they won't forget.

3. This is life-fulfilling.

sukkot

It is paramount that we recognize who Jesus is. 

  • He is the living water. 
  • Jesus is Salvation.
  • He belongs to the Lord.
  • He is the great I am. 

Remind your children that Jesus is with us, carrying and caring about all our cares, problems, and worries. God is here. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He knows our going out and our coming in. 

We live in a very tumultuous time. For the first time in a very long time, depression and suicide rates in children ages 5-12 have escalated. 

This is heartbreaking.

Children and youth hear the worries of their parents, and some don’t have parents that love them. 

Antidepressants are being prescribed 10-fold more than 2 years ago. Pause at that statement. 

Antidepressants were already overprescribed (not that they’re never needed, but God provides a lot of tools to use to combat emotional struggles we can use before going to prescription medications that most people don’t know about or try.

And now, because of the dramatic measures and drastic changes in our world over the last 2 years, antidepressant prescriptions have increased by a factor of 10. That’s multiplying by 10!

People are scared and they’re turning to the world for help and solutions.

Yet, Jesus is there and able to take you into his arms. These feasts serve as reminders to our children: Remember when Jesus did the water? The light? The Sabbath?

We need every reminder of who Jesus is in both our lives and in the lives of our children.

4. This is the end of the story of grace.

The prophecy has been depicted in the Feast of Tabernacles, which will be fulfilled when Jesus the Messiah returns.

This is the most holy day of our time. 

From the ordinary to the extraordinary, God will unify all in holiness.

Being the last of the 7 feasts, this is the conclusion of the religious season. 

Seven means completion.

What Happens During Sukkot

what happens at sukkot

The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated for seven days, and then there’s a huge party on the eighth day - the last and greatest day.

  • 7 days to live in booths. 
  • The first day is a Sabbath.
  • The 8th day is a Sabbath: the High Holy Day Sabbath .

Each of the 7 days, the Jewish people waved branches in a joyous celebration.

The Israelites' unbelief and disobedience caused their wanderings. 

We don’t want to be in that camp!

We can know without a doubt that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. 

These feasts are reminders of God’s promises, God’s provision, and God’s grace - which overflow abundantly to His people.

Jesus In The Feasts Of Israel

Jesus fulfills the feasts. He is our ultimate tabernacle. Our dwelling place. (See Matthew 18:20)

For now, we can have rest in our souls and on the final feast there will be complete rest all around us.

One author wrote that many people never enter God’s rest because they seek things from Jesus rather than Jesus himself. They seek blessings rather than the one who blesses.

Jesus himself is our rest.

Sukkot Holiday

sukkot holiday

As you celebrate this with your families, find a place - even your own backyard - to build your own sukkah. It can be of any form whatsoever. There’s lots of examples and ideas online.

Remember, this represents the Israelites’ days of wandering in the wilderness.

Then on the 8th day make it the most joyous day of celebration ever.

Read Isaiah 51:11:

And the ransomed of the Lord shall 

 return and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

    they shall obtain gladness and joy, and 

    sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

All nations will go to Jerusalem and worship!

Then read Revelation 21:1-6

Then he who sat on the throne said behold I make all things new and he said to me, write for these words are true and faithful and he said to me It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

And Revelation 22:2b-3 & 5

And the leaves of the tree will be for healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it. And his servants shall serve  him. There shall be no more night. They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light and they shall reign forever and ever.

I told you! This is the story of all stories. This is the most amazing grace story ever written.

Feasts Of Our Lord

The more we reenact these stories with our children and grandchildren, the more it solidifies in their hearts and minds what God has come to do.

It helps us stop being so self-centered. 

Our culture encourages and promotes self-centeredness and our children don’t realize this is ungodly thinking. 

They don’t know that God desires us to be self-sacrificing and God-centered, not self-centered.

We need to separate out worldly beliefs and godly beliefs. It’s not about us, it’s about who He is and what He’s come to do.

I’m thrilled you’re here on this journey with me!

It is my joy and honor to serve you God’s recipe for excellent health. And health includes the spiritual.

Just as you are spiritual, you are physical. And just as you are physical, you are spiritual. These two can’t be disconnected.

The more we focus on and celebrate who God is, the more we’re going to be willing to eat according to His principles. To live according to the plan He’s laid out for you.

And why has He laid out this plan? Given us promises? Provided for us? Called us to celebrate Him?

 Because GOD LOVES YOU!

I hope you’re blessed today by His Word and I’d love to hear about your Sukkot celebration in the comments below.

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