Randall E. Ricker
October 1, 2012: Feast of Tabernacles
People don’t need to read the Bible to realize that light represents truth and good things. Darkness represents ignorance and evil. Maybe we have our concepts of light and dark, partly because actions that people would not want other people to know about often occur at night under the cover of darkness.
A SEVEN-THOUSAND-YEAR PLAN
Most of the world is in spiritual darkness. The theme of this Feast this year is A New Dawn is Coming. Christ will come to rule for a thousand years. It is a thousand-year time we call the Millennium. The beginning of the Millennium is like the dawn of the seventh day of the week. We will prove that. The whole plan is like a week. It is like a seven-thousand-year plan. Let’s read about that. Go to Psalm 90. Psalm 90 is one of the few references we have to a day being like a thousand years, which leads us to this idea of a seven-thousand-year plan.
Psalm 90, verse 4: “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.”
That might be seen as just how God looks at time. Being an immortal being, He might compare a thousand years to a day not being much different. But there is more to it than that. We can see more to that especially if we go into II Peter chapter 3 where we have the other reference to a thousand years being like a day.
Read II Peter 3:1-9.
Notice as we read these verses that in verse 5 it says, “…the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water…” referring to the renewal in Genesis chapter 1. Then it says, “…the world that then existed perished, being flooded…” This is referring to the flood of Noah’s time. Then it says something about the heavens and the earth being reserved until the day of judgment. This is something in the future, so it is talking about the whole time span of man’s existence. That is the context of verse 8 where it says, “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years…” Once we realize that and realize the Millennium is a thousand years, now we begin to see that there could very well be a seven-thousand-year plan. And, in fact, there is, and the last thousand years is the Millennium. We are toward the end of the first six thousand years right now, and we’re looking forward so much to that last thousand years plan.
God’s plan is like a week or like seven thousand years. We have the Sabbath rest every week. Six days we work and the seventh day we rest, and we have the Millennial rest coming up which we look forward to so much. We can think of it this way. The beginning of the Millennium is like the dawn of the seven day of the week.
Just a little aside, you will notice verse 7 says “reserved for fire,” and then if you want to read verses 10-12, you would see elements melting, etc. I am not going to cover all of that now. It is covered in our Times and Seasons Digest No. 11, Mountains Shall Rise and Mountains Shall Fall, page 20. If you want to look it up sometime and refresh your memory, go right ahead.
We have been talking about a new dawn coming. Back when God gave significance to the sun, that was in Genesis. Let’s go back to Genesis. The dawn is a sunrise. We know what the sun represents, but let’s go back to where it was given its significance. We will see this tied to the Feast in a moment.
Genesis chapter 1, verse 14: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.”
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
In verse 14 it said these lights were for signs and seasons, days and years. That word “seasons” is a Hebrew word that is familiar to some of us—mowed. It means a solemn time. It means a feast. It means a festival. It means a season as well. Those are the festivals that we celebrate and that we observe. We are observing a festival today, and today begins the Feast of Tabernacles. It is the first day.
Let’s look at the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles. We will start in Leviticus 23, beginning 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. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation [which is today, and we are having it right now]. 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.’”
Let’s continue reading in verse 39. “Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, 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 [repeating what we heard], and the eighth day a Sabbath-rest.”
Continue reading Leviticus 23:40-43.
In verse 39 it says “when you have gathered in the fruit of the land.” Let’s remember that word “gathered” because we are going to be seeing that again.
In the Bible the festivals were based on the agricultural year. In Palestine and elsewhere there are two harvests: the small spring harvest and then a greater fall harvest. The spring harvest would have started during the Days of Unleavened Bread and finished up by Pentecost—the Feast of Firstfruits, which is a feast of that small harvest. Then the second harvest which is the great fall harvest would be finishing by now in Palestine. In the United States it is still going on because it is a cooler climate.
We see that is the way the festival season worked. Now we are looking at this great fall harvest, and we are going to see what this gathering can represent in the Bible.
Let’s go to Exodus chapter 23. It just so happens that Exodus 23 and Leviticus 23 list the holy days. Exodus 23, verse 14: “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 [by the way that is Pentecost] which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering [there’s that word “ingathering”] at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.”
We want to look for a time of gathering that this feast might picture. Turn to Jeremiah chapter 3, verse 17: “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it…” It is talking about being gathered. Verse 17: “…to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”
It is talking about a future time when all nations are gathered to Jerusalem. Obviously it has not happened yet. It says, they will walk no more after the stubbornness of their evil heart. People have not given up their evil hearts yet. Even in the Church, our hearts are not perfect.
In another place this is mentioned is Isaiah chapter 66, verse 18. “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.”
It has to be a future time of gathering because God has not gathered all nations, and all nations have not seen God’s glory yet. Revelation 20 describes a time after Christ returns. That is the Millennium that we have talked about.
Turn to Revelation chapter 20. We will start reading in verse 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 worshiped 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. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
That is that Millennium that we look forward to. It is that time after Satan has been put away. People will be living and reigning with Christ for a thousand years. They will be teaching the people, and the people will be learning God’s way of life. Satan will have been put away. God’s Holy Spirit will be made available to everyone. There will be physical prosperity, too. It will be this ingathering time when people are gathered into God’s family and learning God’s way of life.
CHRIST WILL BE LIKE THE DAWN
Before that Millennium starts, of course Christ has to return. He is going to come as light. In the Bible it talks about His coming being like light coming from east to west. What comes from east to west is the sun. The dawn comes in the east. The sun comes up. The sun goes around to the west.
Turn to Luke 17 just for some thoughts on that. Luke 17, verse 20: “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, “See here!” or “See there!” For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you [“in your midst” is the proper translation].’ Then He said to the disciples, ‘The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, “Look here!” or “Look there!” Do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.’”
It says the kingdom does not come with observation. We have looked at that before. It does not come with ocular evidence, is one way it is put. Another way to put it is outward show or anything like that. Don’t look for physical signs because there won’t be any. We look for the spiritual signs.
Christ’s kingdom will be in our midst. At that time Christ was the representative of that kingdom. He was talking to the Pharisees and others, and they did not even recognize Him as such. As the representative of the kingdom, He did good things for the people. We will cover that a little bit more, too. He did wonderful things for the people.
First let’s go to Matthew 17 as we are talking more about Christ being like the dawn, like the light, or like the sun. There is an incident in Matthew 17 that is called the transfiguration. Transfiguration is an unfamiliar term to most of us. The word that was used in the Greek also means to be transformed. That is probably more familiar to us all. He was in a sense transformed before His disciples, and we will read all about that.
Matthew 17, verse 1: “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured [or transformed] before them. His face shone like the sun [that is important for what we are talking about here], and His clothes became as white as the light.” We are referring to Jesus Christ as being like the sun and as being like light.
Continuing in verse 3 of Matthew 17: “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’”
What Peter was seeing here was a vision of the Millennium because he was seeing Moses and Elijah as being alive. Of course, they had died centuries before that. Then he started talking about making tabernacles for them. Is that a coincidence, or could that be tying the Feast of Tabernacles to the Millennium? It think it is more than a coincidence.
Continue reading Matthew 17:5-9.
It was a vision. It was a vision of the Millennium. They got to see it! They got to see it where Christ was actually showing like the sun.
THE SUN AND THE MOON
In the Bible we know that Christ is represented by the sun. The Church is represented by the moon. The Church is to be the light of the world. We are told in Matthew how to do that. We won’t go there right now. We know the Church becomes the light of the world by reflecting the light of the sun—by reflecting the light of Christ. Let’s look at a few more Scriptures talking about Christ being like the sun.
Turn to Revelation 1, verse 12 where John is speaking: “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man…” In the New Testament, Son of Man is always Jesus Christ.
Continuing in verse 13: “…clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”
Again it is comparing Christ to the sun.
Here is another one in Psalm 84, verse 11: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
It is referring to the Lord God as a sun and shield—the sun. Remember the Lord of the Old Testament was the one who became Jesus Christ. Again it is showing He is the sun.
Here is one more in the Old Testament. Turn to Malachi chapter 4, verse 2: “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.”
That makes perfect sense that this Sun of Righteousness would be a person, because look how it talks about Him rising with healing in His wings. It has to be a person. It makes perfect sense it would be Christ because who else could be the Sun of Righteousness? Christ is the most righteousness one—the only truly righteous one. It is interesting that the translators of the New King James Bible capitalized Sun of Righteousness with a capital “r,” and they have healing in His wings with a capital “h.” They realized that this was Jesus Christ. Even the translators of my particular version of the Bible picked it up.
In John chapter 1 Christ is called light. John 1, verse 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light…”
Here they capitalized Light in my Bible knowing it was Jesus Christ.
Continuing in verse 7: “…that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”
We will skip on to verse 14 because here it talks about the Word. In verse 14 it says: “And the Word became flesh…” –just in case anyone had any doubts as to who the Word was. It was someone who became flesh. “…and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’”
John said that about Jesus Christ. That was John the Baptist who said it. John the apostle who wrote this wanted to make it perfectly clear who he was talking about here as being the Light. It was Jesus Christ.
We see Jesus Christ very clearly presented as the Light, being presented as the Sun. The physical moon reflects the physical sun’s light, and we saw that last night. It was just beautiful! It was a full moon as you would expect to see at the beginning of the Feast. If it was anything but that, we would wonder. The moon reflects the light of the sun. Therefore the moon does represent the Church, because the Church is reflecting Christ’s light. I just wanted to talk about that a little bit.
REFLECTING CHRIST IN THE MILLENNIUM
As we read in John 1 here where it states Christ came as the Light, we remember that Light will return. Christ will return. We are looking forward to that. What is it going to be like? Turn to Isaiah 30.
Isaiah 30, verse 26: “Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord binds up the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound.”
This verse makes a lot more sense, once you understand what the sun and the moon represent. As the light of the moon will be the light of the sun, think of what the sun is like right now. The light of the moon will be as much as that. If you look at it symbolically, the Church—the moon will be as bright as the sun is now! In terms of our spiritual growth, there will be the firstfruits and then all the people who will come into the Church during the Millennium. They will be making tremendous growth in their character, reflecting the light of Christ perfectly themselves. It says the light of the sun will be sevenfold. Christ will really be able to shed His light on all these people in the Millennium and help them to grow. Then they can reflect His light. It is a time we all look forward to. Let’s turn to another verse concerning that in Isaiah 60.
Isaiah chapter 60, starting in verse 1: “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.”
The Church in its time—the firstfruits—will rise, and they will be shining reflecting God’s glory.
Verse 2: “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people…”
That’s the way it is right now. There is spiritual darkness over this earth.
Continuing in verse 2: “…but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
I think that when the firstfruits are resurrected and people have figured out what’s beginning to happen, they will come. They will want to learn God’s way of life.
Verse 4: “…Lift up your eyes all around, and see: they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.”
We studied that right here last year. We talked about the sea representing mankind. It is the sea of mankind, as people like to put it. Instead of being “turned to you,” a better translation in the Old King James is “shall be converted.” We look forward to the sea of mankind being converted. They will see the light, and they will want to be converted.
Let’s go on to verse 18 of Isaiah 60: “Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.”
It is a time we look forward to so much, where there will be no more violence.
Continuing in verse 19: “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory.”
People won’t think about the physical sun as being the light. They will think of God as being the light.
Verse 20: “Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.”
Right now with the Church it is as if the sun is not always shining on us. It is as if we are not always reflecting the light from the sun. But in the Millennium those who are resurrected and then everyone else as they learn will be reflecting more perfectly the light of God, as I said. There will not be this variation that we have right now. We have our good days and our bad days. We have our days when we are close to God and our days where we are not so close to God. We have days that we can confidently ask for something in prayer and other days that we rather sheepishly ask God for something in prayer. We ask for forgiveness of sin and for Him to please answer this prayer, and we are sheepish about it because we know it has not been a good day in our relationship with God. We do have days like that. It will not be like that then.
Continuing again in verse 20: “Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. Also your people shall all be righteous; they shall inherit the land forever…”
That will be quite a time when everyone is righteous!
Verse 21: “…the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation, I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.”
God is going to make it happen. We have faith that He will.
I was talking a little bit about what the Light did at His first coming. In Luke 7 it has a good summary of that. Let’s read that in Luke chapter 7. Here is where John the Baptist’s students had seen what was happening with Jesus Christ. They were wondering what was going on there because here John the Baptist had this powerful message of repentance and baptism. Then all of a sudden there is this other person that everyone is starting to follow. The disciples told John the Baptist about this. Starting in verse 19 let’s read about that.
Read Luke 7:19-23.
As a representative of the kingdom and the light of that kingdom, Christ healed and He taught. He taught people the gospel. He gave them hope. He taught them the good news, but He only really did this in the lands of Judah and Galilee. That is about all. That is as far as He got Himself. He is going to do similar things in the Millennium. People will be healed. People will be taught. Everyone will be taught the gospel and will understand. But it won’t just be in two small provinces in the Middle East. It will be all over in the Millennium, to everyone. Everyone will know the gospel!
LIGHT AND TRUTH
Let’s conclude in Psalm 43. This particular Psalm is one that one of our hymns is based on. I won’t sing it for you! Psalm 43, verse 3: “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.”
We have God’s light and truth now. The person who wrote this Psalm wanted God’s light and truth. He recognized it. We have it now in the Church, and that is about as far as it goes right now. In the Millennium it will be everywhere. There will be light and truth in the Millennium. The result will be joy as humanity has never experienced before!