The Feast of Tabernacles is one of three festival times during the year.
"'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. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.'"
"'And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the Lord God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.'" (Exodus 23:14-17, 34:22-23)
One purpose of the Feast is to remember our exodus from spiritual Egypt (sin), and that the LORD is our God:
"'You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.'" (Leviticus 23:42-43)
The Feast is also designed so that the whole family may rejoice together.
"'You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.'" (Deuteronomy 16:13-15)
At the end of every seven-year cycle, at the Feast of Tabernacles, God commanded all debts be released and to alleviate the suffering of the poor.
"'At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release . . . for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance . . . For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.'" (Deuteronomy 15:1-4, 6)
Special Sacrifices were offered on each day of the Feast of Tabernacles and on the Last Great Day.
|Burnt Offerings ||Young Bullocks ||Rams ||Yearling Lambs |
|1st Day ||13 ||2 ||14 |
|2nd Day ||12 ||2 ||14 |
|3rd Day ||11 ||2 ||14 |
|4th Day ||10 ||2 ||14 |
|5th Day ||9 ||2 ||14 |
|6th Day ||8 ||2 ||14 |
|7th Day ||7 ||2 ||14 |
|Total ||70 + ||14 + ||98 = 182 |
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|8th Day ||1 ||1 ||7 |
Special Psalms were sung during the Feast. These were Psalms 120 to 134, known as the fifteen "songs of degrees," or "songs of ascent." They were sung by pilgrims on the way up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast. Psalms 113 to 118, known as the Hallel (Praise God) Psalms, were also sung.
Jesus kept the Feast of Tabernacles while he was on the earth.
"After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
"Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come." When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret . . .
"Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?" Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. "" (John 7:1-10, 14-18)
Paul kept the Feast of Tabernacles.
"And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, 'I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.' And he sailed from Ephesus. " (Acts 18:19-21).
The Feast will be kept in the future.
"Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the entrance to this gateway before the Lord on the Sabbaths and the New Moons . . . But when the people of the land come before the Lord on the appointed feast days . . ." (Ezekiel 46:3, 9)
According to Alfred Edersheim's book on The Temple, the Feast of Tabernacles, the most joyous of all festival seasons, came at the time of the year when all crops had been stored, all fruits gathered, wine made, and the land only awaited the "latter rain" to prepare it for a new crop. The fall harvest reminded Israel of their dwelling in booths in the wilderness and the final harvest when Israel's mission should be completed, and all nations gathered unto God.
The Last Great Day
The Last Great Day of the feast is also known as the eighth day. It is an independent festival from Tabernacles.
"Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "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. 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 . . .'"
"'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, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest.' " (Leviticus 23:33-36, 39)
Jesus kept the Last Great Day.
"On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' " (John 7:37-38)
The Last Great Day represents the time when God will make salvation available to all those who never had a previous chance to choose it.
"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." (Revelation 20:4-5)