Ancient Ways for End Time Days

Sukkot , Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles, is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishri  – late September to late October – after the grape harvest (Lev. 23:34). One of three mandated festivals, it required Jews to make a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem.  

Booths were walled structures covered with a plant material such as leafy tree overgrowth or palm leaves. The intention was that these would be a reminder of the fragile dwellings the Israelites dwelt in during their 40 years in the desert after the  Exodus. Throughout the holiday, meals were eaten inside and many slept there.

This Feast of Tabernacles was the most joyous of Israel’s feasts, a yearly gathering to worship the king of kings. Indeed, it was the feast of the harvest in the seventh month and Israel was commanded to bring their offerings and rejoice in booths for seven days. One day during this time was very special, a most solemn day, the Day of Atonement and Israel greatly rejoiced that their sins had been covered.

This year saw over 6,000 Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot.  Different messianic Jews groups either going there, or gathering around the world, for conferences had various themes such as A Light Unto the Nations and A Praise to the Earth.

Two that caught our eye were It’s Harvest Time! and Ancient Ways for End Time Days.

The link
Yes, it’s quite a journey of enlightenment to visit Jerusalem and Israel at anytime  but as Christians we can rejoice any time, anywhere over our forgiveness of sin, our rescue from Satan and our exodus from our captivity in his kingdom. We simply lift our heart and mind and hands wherever we are and give the Lord thanks for all that he has done for us.

It is good to remember that all the feasts were types of the coming and the work of the Messiah. Regarding atonement, we wholeheartedly rejoice that Jesus entered the heavens as our high priest to make atonement for our sins. We now rejoice in his great messianic work – salvation for all, just not Jews.

One of the most interesting scriptures mentioning the Feast of Tabernacles is in John 7. It is the time of Jesus’ third and final trip to the Jewish capital, some six months before his crucifixion.

The last day of the feast was regarded as the greatest (John 7:37), when sacrifices were offered, booths were joyously dismantled and the people repeatedly sang the hallel (Pss. 113-118). There was also the special water pouring ceremony on this climactic day.

As the people pack up and the reminders of ancient ways and the joy of the feast including the yearly once-only water pouring begin to fade into memory, an amazing thing happened. Jesus stood up and invited those who believed in him to receive an endless supply of life-giving water, which includes the Holy Spirit. As the Message Bible puts John 7:37: ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way.’

Zechariah 14:16-17 warns that if the feast of Tabernacles was not attended, then there would be no rain so adequate rainfall was expected by the faithful. Water had been associated with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (see Isa.44:3; Eze. 36:25-27: Joel 2:28). Jesus’ proclamation promised the Holy Spirit in a personal overwhelming way with himself as the agent after Calvary.

What a surprise this would have been to those about to return home. No wonder many responded by calling him a prophet and the Messiah (V41). Many returned at dawn to be taught further (8:1-2). And as he did so he again linked the Feast of Tabernacles with his God-given mission… of being the light of the world (John 8:12). On the last day of that popular feast not only was there the water-pouring rite but also the lights ceremony. Torches had been lit before the happy gathering.

Jesus was linking himself with the deeper meaning of this festival for he was the true light of the world and soon would be its Saviour. Then, after he was glorified, the Holy Spirit would be available to all who believed in him.

Time for old truths to be fired afresh!
No, we’re not, as some would have it, expecting Bible balanced Christians to start celebrating Jewish Torah laws! That would be foolishness and entering into the dangers that the writer of Hebrews warns about, when many early church Christians were in peril of slipping back into sanctimonious, pharisaical bondage. That author strongly cautioned:It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off.’

But we would urge, in this day of opportunity – a time of world troubles and a day when many feel we are in the last days, the end times – to witness Jesus to those who need Christ. To remind a godless society that the ancient ways, taught in the Bible and honoured by our ancestors, are good ways, wholesome and reliable.

And to remind Christians who have returned to the ease of home as it were, that Jesus has already accomplished everything on our behalf, that we don’t have to keep laws and ordinances that were established for Israel, a nation that had just been released from slavery, nor do we have to live up to anything that Jesus never intended for Christians. We are free in Christ!

If anything, the Feast of Tabernacles is a good reminder of the grape harvest. Grapes speak of wine yet another symbol of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, harvest speaks of the need to reap lost souls for Jesus. This harvest is ever before us and we must take the opportunities God drops before us.

The pilgrimage for today
Let’s make a pilgrimage to our churches or prayer closets; praise God for all that Jesus has done for us in becoming our Saviour in forgiving our sins and availing us of the power of the Holy Spirit. Then ask him to help us witness him to the unsaved.


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