The political climate in our country has so many people wondering can things get any worse.  For those of us who believe in the God of the Bible we know in fact things can and will get worse.  

If we are familiar with the book of Revelation, we know that things will get much worse, but if you read to the very end God has it all under His control and in His hands.  

God gave to Israel Holy Days to be reminded regularly during the year of God’s sovereign hand over His creation.  He is Lord and His will, will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  

This morning we will be considering the feast of Booths which is the last of the seven annual feasts that God gave Israel.  It was a day of thanksgiving and remembrance.

God knows that we all need times for revival; to take our eyes off what is around us to bring us joy in the midst of sorrow and to give us wisdom to understand the times. Tabernacles was given to do just that.

Tabernacles was the last of the three pilgrim feasts.  Everyone left their homes throughout the land of Israel and came to Jerusalem.  It was a time of great joy because they were rejoicing in the harvest.

Illus from Luke 2:41 ff Traveling from Jerusalem Yeshua’s parents did not realize that he was not among the families that went until evening.

Let’s consider three aspects of Tabernacles.  One from Torah and two from the New Covenant. How God can give us peace when we fix our eyes on Him despite our circumstances. 

The building of Booths or Sukkah’s.  The Pouring of water which took place in the Temple. And lastly the illumination of the Temple.

But first let’s read the Scripture associated with Tabernacles. Lev. 23:39-43:

‘On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. 

You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’”

I. The building of Booths 

In v. 42 we read that Israel was to dwell in booths. Our fathers taught that a booth must have at least 3 walls and a roof made of branches. Today a bamboo covering is used.  

It must be fairly covered to provide shade from the sun but allow light to come through.  These booths and not their houses were to be their dwelling during this week. 

V. 43 tells us why we were to live in these booths.  So that we might remember God had Israel live in booths when we left Egypt.  

  1. In a Sukkah we leave a secure permanent dwelling for a less than stable one.  

It was to help God’s people remember their start as a nation in the wilderness.  To remember that our fathers were exposed to elements beyond their control: serpents, unpredictable weather, unreliable water and food. 

This was the classroom of faith – where faith and trust in God would be built. Israel was supposed to be in those tents for only 24 months.  That was how long God planned for them to be in the wilderness. 

Paul likely had the Sukkah in mind when he likened our bodies to a tent to remind us that our lives are in temporary dwellings. 

2 Cor. 5:1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  

Another lesson while dwelling in a Sukkah is to the rich and powerful 

“don’t rely on your wealth and influence it is transitory.”

It can leave you more quickly than it came. Even in a mansion you are no more secure than in a Sukkah. God is the one who protects and judges. Who defends and removes defenses.

If you are safe, it is because God shelters you as our fathers were sheltered in the wilderness. The sky we see by day and the stars by night are to help us remember that our lives need to be built on the sure foundation of Faith in God and His Word.

  • To the Poor and Downtrodden the Sukkah says “Are you more helpless than our fathers in the wilderness?

Are you without a reliable source of food, water, or permanent shelter?  What sustained them?  Who provided for them?  Who calmed their fears and worries?  

Look at the walls of the sukkah and look at the sky through the roof. Let it remind you that Israel became a nation while dwelling in such mansions.

This was the palace for a nation of kings. This was the Temple for a nation of Priests.  This is the kind of structure where faith and confidence in God is developed.

The Sukkah reminds us that we are pilgrims as they were passing through. We are strangers and exiles. This world and its ways are not ours.  We are to live and abide in the King and His Kingdom. Now but not yet.

(Heb 11:8-10) By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. {9} By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; {10} for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

  • The Sukkah reminds us that God dwelt in a Tabernacle with Israel. 

(Num 9:15-17) Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening,  it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. {16} So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. {17} And whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp.

In Ex. 16:10 We are told that the cloud was the Lord and in Ex. 19:9 …”Behold I shall come to you in a thick cloud, Lev. 16:2 “I will appear in a cloud over the mercy seat.”

The Tabernacle in the wilderness was God’s Sukkah where He dwelt among His people.  God was with them as they traveled to the Promised Land. 

2000 years ago, God tabernacled among us in the Person of Yeshua.  He invites us to come to dwell in His Sukkah in Him.  There you will find rest and peace for your soul in the wilderness we walk in:

Mat. 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

When we come to God in His appointed way through faith in His Messiah Yeshua, we receive God’s Spirit which led Israel through the wilderness.  We experience His Light in the Darkness and His peace in the uncertainties and instability that surround us. 

As the Psalmist reminds us in Ps 3: But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.

Now let’s consider an event that took place in the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus.  These aspects are important because they give us insight into events that set the stage for the most significant event in Israel’s history.

II. Joy of the drawing of the water.

This was a special ceremony that took place every morning during the eight days of the feast of Sukkot.  There was a joyous procession, accompanied by music, and led by a priest bearing a golden pitcher, measuring just a little over two pints.

This procession would make its way from the Temple courts to the Pool of Siloam.  At the same time another procession went to the Kidron valley, where willow branches would be gathered.  The two groups would meet at the altar of the sacrifices in the Temple.

The branches from the Kidron valley would be bound to the altar and bent in such a way so as to form a kind of leafy canopy or tabernacle over the altar.

The priest who came from the pool of Siloam would enter through the water gate.  It was from this procession that it got its name.  As he walked through the water gate there would be three blasts upon the shofar.

Then amid great demonstrations of excitement and joy this water was poured into a silver tube on the altar, while at the same time another priest would pour into another silver tube wine, which was the drink offering.  The two combined together upon the altar. This was done every day of the feast.

On the 8th day, the Hoshanna rabba, the great day of this feast, the excitement reached a climax.  Jerusalem looked like a forest in motion.  All the worshippers would be waving their lulav’s in joy.

When the Levites would sing the Hallel which consists of Psalms 113-118 the crowds would come to silence.  After each verse the assembled throng would respond with a loud “Amen”.

Then the priests would lead a procession around the altar.  They would circle it 7 times, a tradition that remains in an orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony.  

When they came to the words of the 118th Psalm, “Baruch Ha Ba B’Shem Adonoi” Blessed be He who comes in the name of the Lord. 

Those that were of the remnant, the true believers, would in their hearts greet the Messiah and King, to whom these words they knew applied.  

The Talmud writes concerning that moment, “He that has not seen Simchat bet ha Sho’evah, “The joy of the pouring of the water”, has not seen joy in his life.”

The Rabbis understood this event as symbolic of two things: 

  1. The provision of water that God made for his children in the wilderness wanderings.  
  • The promised pouring forth of God’s Spirit like waters on the earth.  Once again in the Talmud we read “Why is it called Bet ha Sho’evah?

Because of the pouring of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said: ‘With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Is. 12:3.

Part of this prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled.  For it was at this moment as the righteous were welcoming Messiah in their hearts, as water was being poured and they read from the 118th Psalm.

That Yeshua stood up, as it is quoted in the New Covenant in John 7:37 “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried out saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and Drink.”

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”  Jesus was referring to the Spirit of God as we read in 7:39.

The Spirit has come to dwell in all those who trust in Messiah.  Who believe He is their Kipporah, their atonement.  In fact if today you trust and believe that Yeshua is the promised Messiah, and that He died for your sin and rose again to forever remove them, you too can enter into the true joy that the Talmud described of in the days of the Temple. 

  1. The Illumination of The Temple.

At the conclusion of the first day of the feast of Tabernacles, people would gather in the Temple in the court of the women.  Placed in the court were 4 Giant candelabras, each containing four large bowls, filled with oil.

Ladders would rest against these giant candelabras.  Four young men, descended from the kohanim, would climb these ladders and would light each of the four bowls.  16 in all were lit.

So great and brilliant was the light that, according to a saying, “there was not a court in Jerusalem that was not lit up by it”.  Around these great golden burning lamps, a sacred dance took place.

The remnant of true believers, and spiritual leaders with flaming torches in their hands danced before the people and sang hymns and songs of praise.

The Levites also with harps, and lutes, and cymbals, and trumpets, and instruments of music without number, stood on the 15 steps which led down from the Court of Israel to that of the women, corresponding to the 15 songs of Degrees in the book of Psalms.

Like the water pouring service this too had a twofold understanding to Israel:

  1. To remind them of the past, when God led them in the wilderness with the cloud of glory and the pillar of fire by night.  It was this Shekinah which inhabited the Temple.
  • To remind them of the Messianic promises in the future when the light of the Lord would rise on the land and the people.

This too in part been fulfilled, for He who cried, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and Drink,” said at this same feast, in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

When we want to understand what in the world is going on, those who come to Yeshua God pours out His Spirit which brings light in the midst of the darkness.

As Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples, but the

Lord will rise upon you, and nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

In closing it worthwhile to consider that Sukkot is the only feast of 8 days.  In Biblical typology the 8th day speaks of resurrection. Sukkot speaks of the resurrection of the world spiritually.  A time spoken of when a great voice out of the throne of heaven shall declare

“Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them.”

This day is fulfilled partially when the Lord will rule and reign upon the earth during the millennial kingdom.  Zech. 12-14 speaks of that day.

So, as we celebrate Tabernacles this day calls us to come to the True sukkah Yeshua, and if you will He will send His Spirit to bring His comfort and bring us light to understand the times we are living in.

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