Featured Message: The Feast of Tabernacles

As autumn begins in the north, members of the Church of God plan for the biblical fall holy days.  The Feast of Trumpets pictures the return of Christ.  The Day of Atonement reminds us that Satan and the demons will be taken away.  These holy days are followed by the Feast of Tabernacles.

In Leviticus 23 we have a listing of all the holy days of God (all of the festivals).  Let’s begin in verse 34: “Speak to the children of Israel, saying:  ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord.’”  It is talking about the seventh month of God’s sacred calendar; it is not the calendar we use today.

Read Leviticus 23:35-36: “On the first day there shall be a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work on it.  For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.  On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.  It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.”  Here in these verses we see that on the first day of the Feast and the eighth day we are to have a holy convocation (in other words a Church service), and these verses talk about physical sacrifices.  The New Testament tells us that Jesus Christ fulfilled the physical sacrifices, and we do not have to do them anymore.  Therefore, we do not.

Let’s continue now in verse 39 of Leviticus 23: “Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land…”  [Remember that word “gathered” because we’ll be discussing it more later.]   “…when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the Feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a Sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a Sabbath-rest.”  The first day of the Feast and the eighth day (The Last Great Day) are to be days of rest, so we are not to be working on those days.

As we study the Bible, we find that the festivals are based on the harvest year inPalestine, which is where the Israelites first settled.  In that area, as well as in many other parts of the world, there are two harvest seasons: a small spring harvest and a later, larger autumn harvest. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Feast comes at the autumn harvest.

Let’s continue in Leviticus chapter 23, verses 40-42: “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.  You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year.  It shall be a statute forever in your generations.  You shall celebrate it in the seventh month.  You shall dwell in booths for seven days.  All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths.”  We are told to dwell in booths, meaning temporary dwelling places, a temporary place to live for a short time.  In our modern society, our temporary dwelling might be a hotel room or a tent.

When we were reading Leviticus 23 we noted that the word “gathered” was in the verse: “when you have gathered in the fruit of the land.” That is important, because we are going to look at a future gathering harvest that this Feast pictures.

Exodus 23 is another chapter where most of the holy days are listed.  We read in Exodus 23:14-16:  “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year:  you shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.”  There is that word “gathering.”  That is referring to the Feast of Tabernacles, the end of the harvest year.  Again, remember there are two harvests: the firstfruits harvest and the great autumn harvest.

Let’s look for a future time of ingathering that is pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles.  Turn to Jeremiah chapter 3.  Jeremiah 3, verse 17:  “‘At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it [there is that word ‘gathered’], to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem.  No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts.’”

This is a future time when all nations are gathered to Jerusalem(the throne of the Lord).  It has to be future, because it has not happened yet.  Here it also says they will walk no more after the stubbornness of their evil heart; people have not given up their evil hearts yet.

Isaiah chapter 66:18 talks about a time after the return of Jesus Christ: “For I know their works and their thoughts.  It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory.”  Again it is talking about a time of gathering that has not yet occurred.  All nations have not yet seen Christ’s glory; this verse is discussing a future time.

Revelation chapter 20 describes a time after Jesus Christ has returned, and it is after Satan the devil has been put away and bound for a thousand years.  We now come to Revelation chapter 20:4: “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them.  Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.  And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

During this one-thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth, Satan will have been put away already, and God’s Holy Spirit will be made available to everyone!  It will be a wonderful time. The Millennium is the ingathering period pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles.

Isaiah 2:2-4 gives us an idea of what that time will be like: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.  Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall 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 the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”  Everyone will be taught God’s way of life, and all war will end.

All of the people who are alive will be gathered in and learning God’s way of life; they will eventually become part of God’s family.