Why Tabernacles is Important for You!
Then the Lᴏʀᴅ 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 Lᴏʀᴅ’” (Lev. 23:33–34).
Sukkot, or Tabernacles, begins this year on October 13 at sundown, five days after Yom Kippur, and commemorates God’s provision and protection of the Jewish people during their 40-year trek through the wilderness. Those years followed their redemption from bondage in Egypt and the receiving of the Law at Sinai.
Tabernacles, along with Unleavened Bread and Pentecost (Feast of Weeks), compose the three pilgrim feasts that require all Jewish males to appear before God with an offering (Dt. 16:16) and to abstain from work. Specific offerings were also required (Lev. 23:36–37).
For Sukkot, Jewish people around the world camp out in temporary booths (sukkahs) for seven days to identify with their forefathers and remember God’s provision (23:42). It is a time to celebrate God’s dwelling (“tabernacling”) with His people.
Tabernacles also celebrates the final harvest of the year, providing an opportunity to thank God for sending the rain that watered the crops. Each person waves a lulav (bundle of palm and other branches) and an etrog (citron, or lemon) before the Lord during synagogue services.
In the days of the Temple, the people would make a procession around the altar once a day for six days and offer a series of prayers, each ending with the Hoshanah (“please save” or “save now”). On the seventh day, they walked around seven times. They were to walk in every direction—north, south, east, and west—to demonstrate that God provided the harvest collected from everywhere.
Since the Feast of Tabernacles is so obviously Jewish, you might wonder what significance it could have for Christians today.
First, we are told in John’s Gospel, “The Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14). God’s presence came in the incarnated Messiah who was present with His people. He was Immanuel, Hebrew for “God with us.”
Second, the prayer “please save” or “save now” has already been answered: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). The cry for salvation at Tabernacles is heard and answered through Jesus the Messiah, for He came to “save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21).
Third, the prophet Zechariah tells us that in the future Messianic Kingdom, “ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’” (emphasis added, Zech. 8:23). Christ is coming back to tabernacle with His people. Every eye shall see Him, and we will worship Him together.
When Jewish people celebrate Sukkot this year, let us take the time to thank God for His provision in earthly things, for He is our Provider. And take time to thank Him for His ancient people, for it is through them that our salvation is here.