The Feast of Tabernacles is the sixth of God’s annual festivals, starting on the 15th day of the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. It is a time for dwelling in temporary homes, called booths or tabernacles, i.e. tents.
“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. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 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 23:39–43).
Also when the Israelites were in the wilderness, they had the Tabernacle of God, which housed the Ark of the Covenant.
“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it. And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height.” (Exodus 25:8–10).
“Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them… And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain. You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim. You shall hang it upon the four pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold. Their hooks shall be gold, upon four sockets of silver. And you shall hang the veil from the clasps. Then you shall bring the ark of the Testimony in there, behind the veil. The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy. You shall put the mercy seat upon the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy.” (Exodus 26:1, 30–34).
“And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” (Exodus 33:8–11).
The Israelites lived in tabernacles in the wilderness, and Moses spoke with God face to face in the Tabernacle of God. And of course, as we saw when looking at the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was to go into the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle, in the presence of God, where the Ark of the Covenant was.
When Christ came to the earth in the flesh (John 1:14), He was in a temporary body, which could be described as a tabernacle.
“Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me” (2 Peter 1:13–14).
The Apostle Peter compared his body to a tent, i.e. tabernacle. When Christ came in the flesh, He was in a physical tabernacle (human body) and people were able to speak to Him face to face, as Moses had done in the Tabernacle in the wilderness.
“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:11–15).
Christ was the perfect tabernacle, not made with hands (as a physical tent would be) but made by God the Father through a divine miracle. He is our High Priest, and when He was on earth in a physical tabernacle people spoke with Him face to face; now we should seek God’s tabernacle today, which is the body of Christ, i.e. the Church. We, as a part of His Church, should seek Christ and to dwell in His tabernacle. The Feast of Tabernacles reminds us of dwelling in tabernacles, as the Israelites did before entering the Promised Land, and it foreshadows the future when the Church shall be married to Christ, and thus be one with Christ and a part of the God Family, a part of the perfect tabernacle, into which billions of other humans will eventually enter in the future.
“I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings” (Psalm 61:4).
“My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore” (Ezekiel 37:27–28).
The world will be changed in the future, when Christ rules as King of Kings (Revelation 19:16).
“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:1–4).
“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, ‘We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach.’ In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped. And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy — everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.” (Isaiah 4:1–6).
In the future there will be a tabernacle providing shade and a place of refuge and shelter for people. Today the Church of God is the tabernacle of God and a place of safety and refuge; in the future it will be God’s Kingdom. As the tabernacle was in the wilderness for the Israelites, as Moses and the high priests would consult God there to provide help.
The Feast of Tabernacles is to be a reminder of Israel’s experience in the wilderness and at the same time a shadow of things to come. It is, in effect, a pivot between the two, bringing forth the reflection of the past, and transforming it into a prophecy of the future. Its characteristics are direct guidance by God, re-education, building of faith, judgment, and removing evil and evildoers. Also, there was a miraculous feeding of the Israelites with the bread from heaven, the manna, water gushing from the rock, and shoes and clothing that did not wear out. These ought to be prophetic of future events in fulfilment.
In the millennium, the miraculous feeding will be with the bread from Heaven, which is Christ, as He feeds all the many people alive at that time.
“Therefore they said to Him, ‘What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” ’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’ ” (John 6:30–35).
“ ‘And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.’ The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ And they said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus therefore answered them, ‘Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.’ ” (John 6:40–51).
Those who are called and chosen now are partaking of the bread of Heaven, which is Christ, and will receive eternal life, and will be living throughout the millennium, and beyond, and giving that bread of life to the people alive in the millennium. Today, during the Feast of Tabernacles, we need the bread of life, just as the Israelites needed the manna in the wilderness.
“ ‘Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” (Exodus 17:6).
“who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock” (Deuteronomy 8:15).
Also in the wilderness the Israelites drank water from the rock, and Christ said in John 4:13–14 that He will give us water to drink — spiritual water, knowledge and understanding, and this will be filling the earth in the millennium, as living fountains of waters.
“For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).
Even without understanding all of the prophecies, we can see that the Feast of Tabernacles foreshadows God’s Kingdom on earth. It seems that many Sabbath-keepers envision a life of idle bliss and glory for both the Feast and the millennium and somehow miss the responsibilities that are going to be required in the Kingdom of God. If we feel that we understand the prophetic time line, we may tend to cut short or ignore the things that could teach us lessons that God wants us to understand for now and for the future.
Although it’s nice to enjoy the Feast and think of good times to come in the millennium, there are great responsibilities too.
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
“For which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:20).
Now we are ambassadors for Christ and for His Kingdom; and we are priests of God.
“And has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:6).
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
In the millennium we who are in the Church now, called and chosen by God, shall also rule over those who live in the flesh at that time, teach them, and be their priests, and to set the world right, oversee the rebuilding of a decent society, good cities, homes that people can live in and feel safe in, without being too close to neighbours.
“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.’ ” (Revelation 21:3).
God the Father and Christ will live on the earth, and be with us and the people of the world. And our conduct should be according to God’s way of life, and is in part outlined in Psalm 15:
“LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LORD; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change; he who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.”
We, as Christians, have the responsibility to do these things now. Here we see how to start preparing for Christ’s return and the world tomorrow.
© David King 2003