Every biblical holiday given to the Jewish people has three aspects. Israel was to observe the holiday in the present in order to remember something God had done in the past, while looking forward to some future prophetic purpose hidden within each festival. This is true for their weekly observance of Shabbat, as well as for the annual pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, the Jewish people were to gather together in Jerusalem not only to remember God's provision in the Wilderness but also to look forward to that promised Messianic age when all nations will flow to this city to worship the Lord.
A Feast for all People
Tabernacles is unique in that the Gentile nations were invited to come up to Jerusalem along with the Jewish people to worship the Lord at this "appointed time". The Lord told Moses to father all men, women and children, along with the foreigners in their land, so they can learn to fear the Lord (Deut. 31:12).
When Solomon later dedicated the Temple at Sukkot, he asked the Lord to hear the prayers of any foreigners that would come there to pray (2 Chronicles 6:32-33). It may surprise some, but Jesus kept the Feast of Tabernacles as well. On the last "great day of the feast", he stood in the Temple and cried out: "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)
Remembering God's Past Provision
The most visible symbol of Sukkot is the small booth the Israelites are commanded to dwell in for the eight days of the Feast (Leviticus 23:33-43). Jewish families build these makeshift huts on their patios and balconies, and decorate them with colourful fruit, ribbons and pictures. Some families eat their meals in thesukkah and even sleep there at night. These flimsy booths are a reminder to Israel that they once dwelled in temporary shelters during the forty years in the Wilderness, totally dependent on the Lord. God is faithful and He continues to provide all we need to walk upright before Him still today.
Tasting the Joy of the Age to Come
Zechariah foretold of a time when all nations will ascend to Jerusalem each year to "worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (14:16). Thus we also keep Sukkot now because of this future prophetic purpose. Throughout the Messianic Age, the entire world will celebrate this feast because it will mark the return of Jesus to the earth. But for now, Christians flocking to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles is a powerful statement of faith demonstrating that we believe the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus is coming.
For the past 35 years, Christians from all over the world have come to Jerusalem each fall to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. They come to take part in a dynamic worship experience and to taste of the joy of the Lord in the age to come.