The first time I ever heard that word, it sounded funny to my ears – tabernacle. The only time I’d ever heard that word was when somebody would talk about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and I didn’t know what that was. Tabernacle is just an old English term for a tent or a temporary dwelling. It’s usually, in the more modern translations, translated booths now – not booze, but booths. And it sounds sort of strange to our ears, but it’s not so different that we can’t understand what it means.
When the Israelites came out of Egypt and sojourned in the wilderness, they had a tabernacle, which was a tent temple that they worshipped at. They could take it down and take it with them. Then, later, in the promised land, to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, they would cut boughs, and bring them home, and stick them up on top of their houses, which always had a patio up there. They would lean them against the walls, or against each other, and they would make temporary shelter out the boughs, and live in that for the Feast. We used to do that, years ago, at Big Sandy, Texas, too, when they had a huge tent city down there. I remember a very good feeling being in the campground down there with all the pine trees – unless it stormed.
So we’re going to take a look first at the Old Testament meaning of this festival. So let’s start with the biblical text – one of them – in Leviticus 23, verse 33.
Leviticus 23:33 – And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month and for seven days is a feast of booths to the LORD.’” What month was that? The seventh month. And which day of the month was it? It was the fifteenth day of the month, right? And it lasted how long? Seven days. So the last day would be how long? What day? Let’s see, fifteen, plus seven is twenty-two. So….
V-35- On the first day shall be a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. What day was that? The fifteenth day of the month. Okay. The middle of the seventh month, right – the seventh month being in the fall. 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…. Wait a minute. I thought this was only seven days long. Well, there’s another day here. On the eighth day you shall hold another holy convocation and present offerings to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly. You shall not do any ordinary work. So it’s a Sabbath – festival Sabbath. These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation – I didn’t know what convocation was either, but that’s a meeting – a service – for presenting food offerings, burnt offerings, 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’ve 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 solemn rest. So, are you kind of getting the picture that there’s a Feast of Tabernacles that lasts seven days, and then there’s another holy day that follows that’s called The Eighth Day? Well, if you do, then you’ve got it.
V-40 – 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’s a statute forever throughout your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. And which day to begin? The fifteenth day. So the last day would be the twenty-second, right?
Okay. What’s all that about? Well, for them, there are a couple things to think about. One is that this is a harvest festival. They had two big harvests each year – one in the winter that they harvested in the early spring and then there was this big one that came in the fall, after the crops had been growing all summer. Have you noticed the moon lately? It’s starting to get big, isn’t it? Right. And what do we call that? It’s the harvest moon, right? Every fall the moon starts to get bigger until it gets as big as it’s going to get in October. And, as the days grew shorter, and the crops got ripe, farmers would harvest by the light of the harvest moon. And this was especially true in ancient Israel, because they had someplace they had to be on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. So they were hurrying to get all the crops in. And then they would take a tenth of all that they produced, and if they couldn’t carry it all, they would turn it into money and take it with them, and they would go to the Feast of Tabernacles. It was a pilgrimage that they did. They went to Jerusalem. And everyone packed up and went for the Feast. And they did that, in part, to celebrate the blessings that God had granted them in the past year.
Now, would you think that God would be upset with that? No, He wouldn’t be upset at all, would He? That would be a good thing to do, wouldn’t it? Would God call you a Judaizer, or a legalist, if you set aside time to pay homage to Him and to celebrate the blessings that He’d granted you on that day? I don’t think so. I mean, God’s always big on us being thankful to Him, isn’t He, especially when He tells us to. Right? So there you go.
Okay, that’s one thing that they were thinking about – the celebration of the blessings that they’d received that year. Now, there’s another reason they did it, too. It says in verse 42:
V-42 – 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 to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. This festival was also about their salvation from Egypt, where they came out and lived in tents while they traveled for forty years.
So that’s interesting, isn’t it? But what does that have to do with us? We don’t farm. And we didn’t go through the Red Sea – or did we? Well, let’s look in 1 Corinthians 10:4. Paul says:
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 – For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. Did you know that? Did you know that the God that was in the pillar of fire and the cloud, and the One that parted the Red Sea, was the One who later became Jesus Christ? That Rock was Christ! Wow! That’s pretty interesting, isn’t it?
So a festival to celebrate their release from slavery by Jesus Christ. Does that sound like anything you’ve ever heard of in today’s world – today’s life? How upset would Jesus Christ be if you celebrated your release from slavery to sin on those days? I mean, Paul makes the connection there for us. Why would he even make it if it wasn’t important?
Let’s think about this. Before these days became strictly “Jewish” days, they were God’s days and Jesus Christ was involved in them. He was the One that gave them. So He gave them this festival. All of them, really, are about God’s plan to harvest us into His Kingdom. It’s God’s harvest plan that this is all about. It’s not about wheat, or rice, or barley, or corn. It’s about people. It’s about us. So everything that happened to those people back then, those were all models for our salvation in Jesus Christ. How upset would God be if we actually got in step with that plan through those festivals? The reason they were given was so we wouldn’t forget. Right? That’s what He said. Is there anything we’re forgetting? Maybe, if you don’t use it, you lose it. But they are rich with meaning of salvation, yet most people don’t even know what they are.
All right. Now let’s turn our attention to Jesus Christ when He was here on the earth. I’m going to start in John 7, and verse 1. This is an account about Jesus going up to the festival. It says:
John 7:1 – After this, Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. We’re in John 7 here. This is early on and they’ve already got a bead on him. So He’s having to be really careful.
V-2 – Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. So you know what that is, right? Which day did that start on? The fifteenth day of what month? The seventh month.
V-3 – So His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that Your disciples may also see the works You are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even His brothers believed in Him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. So you go up to the Feast. I’m not going up to this Feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, He remained in Galilee. But after His brothers had gone up to the Feast, then He also went up, not publicly, but in private. This is how He got to the Feast that we’re talking about – and it is the Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths.
Look down the page to John 7, and verse 37. It says;
V-37 – On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whosoever believes in Me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
So that’s pretty interesting, isn’t it – what He said there? Here He is. He’s at the Feast of Tabernacles. He’s speaking on what I believe to be the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. It does say “last day of the feast,” doesn’t it? And what’s He talking about? Is He talking about a harvest festival? Is He talking about coming out of Egypt? Well, He is talking about harvesting, but mostly He’s talking about the Holy Spirit. You mean, the guy that created this festival, and who gave it first to Israel…it has another meaning? It has to do with the Holy Spirit? Well, that’s kind of a New Testament thing, isn’t it? That’s a church thing, right? So here we have Jesus Christ talking about stuff that pertains to Christianity on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Isn’t that right? It is. I mean, that’s what it says.
So which day is this? I’m going to kind of take off on a little tangent here. I used to believe that this is the eighth day of the Feast, because it was called the great day. You know, when I came along, the church that I was in thought this was this eighth day of the Feast. And I assumed that was correct. We’d developed a tradition, calling the eighth day The Last Great Day – sort of a combo-term between the last day and the great day of the feast, with the idea that it was the last day of the festival. That’s what we always thought. But some things have come to light since then that make me believe maybe that really is what it says here – the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, not this extra eighth day that the Bible talked about back there in Leviticus. Why would I think that? Well, from olden times, on the seventh day of the Feast, the priests, all through the Feast, held a water ceremony. And on the seventh day, they would march seven times around the altar, and they would chant Psalm 118:25. And that would be the last time they would draw water and pour it out, as they had done all through the Feast. And no doubt, just as they were pouring out the water, that was symbolic of the water that Moses drew from the rock. Who was the Rock? Well, that was Christ, right? And what did Jesus say? What was it that He said?
Well, before we go to what He said, let me make one other point. All of us are going to go to the Feast of Tabernacles, right? And after The Eighth Day is over, that next day after that, where are we going to be? We’re going to be going home, right? We’re not going to be anywhere around the temple or wherever the Feast was – the place deserts the night of The Eighth Day – everybody leaves and that’s it. And we all go back to where we came from. But it says here, if we look down the page in John 7, to the first verses of John 8, we see that Jesus was in the temple on the next day. He didn’t go home – at least, not on The Eighth Day. So, where would all of us be on The Eighth Day? Well, we’d be at church, wouldn’t we? So, that kind of makes me believe that the day that He got up and gave His sermon was the last day of the Feast, just like it says there in the Bible – instead of The Eighth Day, like we thought.
Did you notice what Jesus said there? Well, let’s read it.
V-37 – On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Oh…the rock, water coming out of the rock…right? “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this He said about the Spirit….” Right? We read that already.
So, I mean, there it is – again! We read it twice now. He’s talking about Himself being the Rock. And what He’s doing is, He’s going back and showing us that when Moses brought water out of the rock by a miracle, that was all about Jesus Christ bringing the Holy Spirit to us. And He’s talking about it on the Feast of Tabernacles. I’m not talking about just my ideas. I’m just reading the Bible here. And I’m not talking about yours either. We can read in the scriptures that Jesus added something about Himself to the meaning of the day. We saw the same thing with Passover, didn’t we? And we saw the same thing with Unleavened Bread. And we saw the same thing with Pentecost. Passover was the time of the Passover lamb, and then John said, “Behold, the Passover Lamb of God!” – you know, the Lamb of God. He was it. Then when He kept the Passover, He kept it on the evening before and He was the Passover then. Then, when we talked about Unleavened Bread, we saw that Paul told us that unleavened bread wasn’t so much about the leavening in your bread or not. It was about living a sin-free life – and unleavened life. And when we looked at Pentecost, we saw that that wasn’t just another spring harvest festival. It was about the plan of God being fulfilled. And that’s when God started the church – on the Day of Pentecost. He could have picked any day of the year, but He started the Church of God on Pentecost. So what does that tell you? Do you think that has any significance – that that’s the anniversary of the founding of the Church of God – the body of Christ?
Now don’t tell me that these days don’t have anything to do with Christianity and that they’re just Jewish days. They are not. There are New Testament meanings in all of these days. And Jesus Christ – the One that we profess to worship and love and follow and obey – He’s smack in the middle of all of them.
Let’s look at an interesting scripture. It’s Haggai 2, verse 1. It says:
Haggai 2:1 – In the seventh month – what month was that? – the seventh month. What happened in that month? – on the twenty-first day of the month – what day would that be? Would that be during the Feast of Tabernacles? It would, wouldn’t it? What do you know? – the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai, the prophet. So this prophecy was delivered at the Feast during the time that Judah was returning out of captivity to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the wall and the city. And they were totally overwhelmed with their job, because it just seemed like it was too much for them. They had too much resistance from the Samaritans. They were just catching it from every direction. People weren’t motivated – nothing new there – and nothing was happening. So God sent this prophet to speak to Zerubbabel, the governor. And he says:
V-2 – Speak now to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, “Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it as nothing in your eyes?” They were just totally overwhelmed with it. “‘Yet now be strong’” – verse 4 – “‘O Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD. ‘Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD. ‘Work, for I am with you,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt.’” None of those people were anywhere close to that on the timeline. That’s a long time before. That was a long time. And yet, it says, “God didn’t go anywhere.” He’s still there. He’s still faithful to His covenant that He made to those people. He said, “‘My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.’ For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land, and I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The silver is mine. The gold is mine,’ declares the LORD, ‘and the latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place, I will give peace,’ declares the LORD of hosts.
Now what do you think that’s talking about? During the Feast of Tabernacles, what’s He talking about? He’s talking about what? The coming Kingdom of God – delivered at the Feast. That ought to tell us something about the day.
There’s another scripture to look at. It’s in Hebrews 12. Did you know that the scripture in Haggai 2 is quoted by Paul in the book of Hebrews? Let’s look at the context – verse 26 of Hebrews 12.
Hebrews 12:26 – At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not the earth, but also the heavens.” And he says, This phrase – yet once more – indicates the removal of things that are shaken – that is, things that have been made – in order that things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We make fun of Paul sometimes, because he’s kind of wordy – and maybe that has something to do with the translators – maybe not – but he was a very clever man, wasn’t he? Let’s be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken – like everything else is going to be – and let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. All you folks that believe in cheap grace and believe that you don’t have to do anything, that isn’t how it really is. Our God is a consuming fire. If you make a deal with Him, before He’s going to give you the reward, you have to meet the requirements. That’s what he’s saying.
And Paul is talking about – and you can read the rest of Hebrews 12 and you’ll see what he’s talking about – is the requirements. He quotes Haggai to prove his point – that Christ will return to the earth, and He will establish a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. So there’s New Testament proof that that scripture means what I told you it meant – that it’s about the coming of Christ. And that’s what the Feast of Tabernacles is really all about, isn’t it? Isn’t that interesting?
Well, there you have it. When Jesus stood up and promised an unending, unstoppable, unshakable flow of the Holy Spirit, He wasn’t just talking about the present day and those who would follow Him in this age, but also the time in the future when He would once again return to the earth and establish a Kingdom that would never be shaken – that would continue to grow forever. And He did that at the Feast of Tabernacles – a biblical festival that pictures that time, when everybody will know God and the Spirit of God will flow freely in all of us.
And yet, there is this gigantic disconnect between what people believe now and what the Bible says. You know, we just keep doing what we’re used to doing. We stay in our comfort zone. Most people today hear these words, they blink a couple of times, and they say, “So what? I mean, we have the grace of Christ. We’re not legalists. We’re not Judaizers. We don’t need to do what Jesus and the New Testament church did. We have our holidays. We don’t need God’s. We forsake God’s laws for the teaching of men.” Oh, they don’t say that, but that’s kind of what happens, isn’t it? In that way, we reject our grace agreement with Jesus Christ. So we’re not “under the bubble,” if we do that. Oh, you mean, you didn’t know that you had to make an agreement to be covered by grace? Well, that’s what baptism is all about. Maybe that explains why people don’t take it seriously. But being forgiven, and being covered by the grace of God for our sins does not mean that we are free to do whatever we want. We’re free to do what God wants and what He thinks is important, not what we think. And the only way that we can be covered is by surrendering our lives as bondslaves of Christ. That’s the deal. And that’s fair, because it cost Christ His life to save ours.
So our holidays, our ideas, our desires, our beliefs, they don’t mean a hoot to God! He knows what He believes, and He knows what He wants us to believe, and He knows what He wants us to do. And we have to give up everything that we think in order to be saved, just like Christ gave up everything to save us. So what does that mean – our God is a consuming fire? That’s what it means. It means when God makes a deal, He doesn’t forget the agreement He made.
Jesus, as the Rock in the wilderness, gave seven festivals to Israel. And then He came to the earth, and He observed them, not only with the Jews, but with His disciples. And He taught New Testament meanings for all of those days. And after He died, we see those guys continuing to keep those days for ten, twenty, thirty, forty years – longer. And we see meaning added to those days – meaning for us about our salvation. We even have a warning in the New Testament that we should contend for the beliefs of the early church and not let them slip away – not take our eye off them.
I want to show you one further scripture. Do you hope for the Kingdom of God? Do you want to be there? Let’s go to Zechariah 14:16. I want to put you into the future here.
Zechariah 14:16 – It shall come to pass – in Zechariah 14:16 – that everyone – I hope to be a part of that everyone – don’t you? – who is left of all the nations which come against Jerusalem, and shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Did you know that? Did you know that, if you make it, you’re going to be keeping it? Just something to think about. You might ought to back off on the Jewish rhetoric, right? – if we’re going to be keeping it. That’ll be Christian.
Okay, so that’s a bit about Jesus and the Feast of Tabernacles. I apologize. I had to put that before Trumpets and Atonement. It’s out of order. But there wasn’t time to squeeze it in before we left for the Feast after Atonement. By the way, we’re now up to 370 registered for the Feast in Sandestin. The room only holds 425. So we’re thinking that some of the people who are planning to attend, but have not registered, may not have a place to sit. That’s a serious problem for us, but I can think of lots worse problems, actually. If people had registered, we could have planned for them. We’re going to have an overflow room, but I can tell you right now, there’s not going to be any video in there. So they’ll miss out on the video part of it. But anyway, we’re really excited about that. We’re looking forward to a great festival, and I hope those of you who are watching online, and those of you who are here, that we can see you there. Have a good Feast!