Yom Kippur The Appointed Times #7 Festivals Book
Sukkot. Every fall following Rosh Hashanah, the High Holidays (“Days of Awe”), and the solemn fast and deep contemplations of Yom Kippur, we enter on one of our faith’s most lasting and ongoing celebrations, Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles.
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Feast of Tabernacles to the LORD begins, and it continues for seven days.” Leviticus 23:34
From His Kingdom Press book, The Biblical Festivals. See links below for more information.
The Feast of Booths or Tabernacles
Each biblical holiday given to the Jewish people has these three aspects: God’s people are instructed to observe the holiday in the present in order to remember something God has done in the past as well as discover some future prophetic purpose hidden within each festival. Thus Jewish people begin Shabbat each week by lighting of two candles, which stand for “Keep” and “Remember.” In so doing, they remember how God rested on the seventh day of Creation while also looking forward to the millennial rest promised for the whole earth. Similarly, Passover and Pentecost look back on the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the law at Sinai, while Christians believe that their hidden prophetic purposes were fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus and outpouring of the Holy Spirit fifty days later.
The third annual pilgrimage festival, Sukkot, is a time when many of God’s people gather in Jerusalem and around the world to commemorate His faithful provision for our spiritual ancestors as they journeyed in the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land and camped in temporary dwellings, called sukkot (Hebrew for “huts” – booths or tabernacles).
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest… and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days… All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:39..43
Sukkot also reminds us of the process of purification through trial that we all must go through after being called out of slavery to sin, empowered by God’s Word and Spirit, and drawn closer to Him in love and trust as we prepare for and look ahead to the prophesied Messianic age when all the nations will flow to the New Jerusalem to worship the LORD.
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. Zechariah 14:16-17
The solemnity of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur yield every year to the joy of Sukkot as people erect temporary ceremonial shelters on their land and meet with loved ones to celebrate. In the reestablished State of Israel, festivities abound, including the annual festival of reconciliation hosted by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. Scholars like Edward Chumney have noted that the birth of Jesus was on the first day of Sukkot, followed by His circumcision on the eighth day, celebrated as Shemini Atzeret.
SHEMINI ATZERET שמיני עצרת
Eighth Day of Sukkot
As its name indicates, this day immediately follows the seven-day observance of Sukkot and wraps up the fall pilgrimage festival with a gathering and celebration of gratitude for God’s grace and provision. Prayer is offered for continuing favor (rain) on upcoming crops. John 7:37-38 reports that on the last day of the [Sukkot] feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
SIMCHAT TORAH שמחת תורה
“Rejoicing of the Torah”
The traditional observance of Simchat Torah is held in Israel on the same day as Shemini Atzeret. Elsewhere it usually occurs on the following day when the yearly cycle of Torah reading ends and the scroll is rolled back to Genesis again. Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and carried around inside the synagogue seven times in a joyful procession, often followed by children waving flags. There is singing and dancing and, for the children, sweets. The characteristic rejoicing of Simchat Torah expresses the joy that believers feel in their possession and observance of the words of the Torah (the “Law”).