“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD… Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
– Leviticus 23:34, 42-43
The Feast of Tabernacles, or Succoth, begins on the 15th of Tishri and lasts for eight days. This year Succoth will begin on October 13th. The word Succoth (also spelled Sukkot) means “booths”, and refers to the temporary dwellings which are built and inhabited during the festival. This feast commemorates the 40 years that the nation of Israel wandered in the desert before entering the Promised Land. The Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths, as it is sometimes called, is a joyous holiday and a time of feasting.
It is fascinating to visit Israel at this time and observe them build their temporary “booths” in the traditional way, leaving deliberate gaps in the branches to view the stars at night, and for the wind to blow through during the day. This is intended to remind them of the wilderness wanderings.
At the end of the eight days, they leave their temporary dwellings to return to their permanent homes. (This is one of the reasons some suspect that this feast, rather than the Feast of Trumpets, is suggestive of the Rapture of the Church.) This day, traditionally, is the day that Solomon dedicated the first Temple.
This feast also involved a daily processional to the Pool of Siloam to fetch water for the Temple. This ceremonial procession is the setting for the events of John 7, where Jesus offers them “living water.” This procession involved four types of branches: the willow, the myrtle, the palm, and a citrus (Leviticus 23:40). The willow has no smell and no fruit. The myrtle has smell, but no fruit. The palm has no smell, but bears fruit. The citrus has both smell and bears fruit. This sounds reminiscent of the four soils of the first “kingdom parable” of Matthew 13, doesn’t it? The prophetic implications of this climactic feast are many. Most scholars associate it with the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom in Israel. To learn more about this subject, listen to our briefing package titled The Feasts of Israel.
The Torah – the five books of Moses – describes seven feasts on the Hebrew calendar. Three feasts are in the spring, in the month of Nisan: Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits. Most Bible scholars believe that the first three feasts are prophetic of the Lord’s First Coming. Then fifty days later there is the Feast of Weeks, Shavout, also known as Pentecost. The feast of Pentecost is predictive of the Church. Pentecost is notably the only feast in which leavened bread is ordained. There are three remaining feasts in the fall, in the month of Tishri: the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The fall feasts are prophetic of the Lord’s Second Coming.
If you take the time to study the feasts of Israel I think you will be amazed by numerous prophetic parallels you’ll uncover. At times the tasks and rituals described in the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Leviticus, may seem laborious or even inapplicable to Christians today. However it is important to remember that every number, every place name, every detail, every jot and tittle found in scripture is there for our learning, our discovery, and our amazement. Truly, our God is an awesome God!