Carrying Branches To Make Booths (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Bob Barney
Most of our readers probably have never heard of the Feast of Tabernacles, but it is in the Bible! In fact, this week meaning to God is so important that the Bible predicts that after Jesus returns to this earth, he will punish all who refuse to keep this feast! Read on for the proof. Again, like for the Day of Atonement, I am going to use the writing of Herbert Armstrong concerning this holiday. He does the subject much better than I can. The only difference that I have with his argument is the date he and most of the other feast keeping churches follow. Since they follow the Jewish calendar, and not the calendar of Moses (e-mail us for proof on the true calendar) and Jesus, they are often following the feast days on the wrong days. Today IS the REAL DATE of the Feast. In Day three of the feast, MY ARTICLE will prove it conclusively!
FEAST OF TABERNACLES AND LAST GREAT DAY
NOW WE come to the festival of Tabernacles -- or Feast of Booths -- the sixth festival. Let us notice the instruction concerning this occasion:
"Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine. And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter ....Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose: because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice ... and they shall not appear before the Lord empty: every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee" (Deut. 16:13-17).
Here is the Festival of Tabernacles, to be kept for seven days, beginning the 15th day of the seventh month of God's sacred calendar. Notice Leviticus 23:33-35: "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 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. On the first day shall be an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work therein."
On the first of these days is a holy convocation -- a commanded assembly. No work is to be done. "... And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days .... It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month" (Lev. 23:40-41).
Notice that it is commanded forever.
Here are pictured those final culminating events in God's great plan: after Christ has died for our sins to redeem mankind -- after He has sent us the Holy Spirit and picked out a people for His Name to become kings and priests through the thousand years -- after His glorious Second Coming -- after He has finally restored the redeemed by placing all the sins upon the head of Satan, their real author, and separating both him and the sins from the presence of God and His people, thus finally perfecting the at-one-ment, making us finally joined in one -- then we are ready for that final series of events, the commencement of the "Marriage of the Lamb," the actual making of the New Covenant, the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth and the reaping of the great harvest of souls for a thousand years.
This festival is the picture of the Millennium!
Pictures the Millennium
To portray His plan, God took the yearly material harvest seasons in ancient Israel as the picture of the spiritual harvest of souls. In the Holy Land there are two annual harvests. The first is the spring grain harvest. Second comes the main harvest.
Notice that the Festival of Tabernacles is to be held "at the year's end" (Ex. 34:22). In this verse the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths is specifically called the "feast of ingathering." The harvest year ended at the beginning of autumn. Just as Pentecost pictures the early harvest -- this church age, so the Festival of Ingatherings or Tabernacles pictures the fall harvest -- the great harvest of souls in the Millennium!
Today is not the only day of salvation. Today is a day of salvation. Isaiah said so: chapter 49, verse 8. In fact, the original Greek words of Paul in II Corinthians 6:2 should be translated "a day of salvation," not "the day of salvation."
Turn to the book of Zechariah to understand this more thoroughly. In the 12th and 13th chapters we have a picture of Christ returning and the reconciliation of the world commencing. Here the meaning of the Festivals of Trumpets and Atonement is made plain.
Next, notice the 14th chapter. The time is the Millennium. "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one ... there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited" (verses 9, 11). It is the time when "living waters" -- salvation, the Holy Spirit -- "shall go out from Jerusalem" (verse 8). The "waters" are literal as well as figurative. God often pictures His spiritual plan by material events.
In that day, when the earth is safely inhabited, when the Holy Spirit is granted to all mortal flesh, what happens? "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles" (verse 16).
Gentiles Forced to Keep the Feast of Tabernacles
Notice this 16th verse of Zechariah 14. After Christ returns, the nations -- mortal Gentiles who have not yet received salvation -- will come to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles! How could they keep a festival that was abolished at the cross? They could keep it only if it were commanded forever.
And what will happen if they refuse to obey God? "And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain" (verse 17). Strong words these!
The nations will be forced to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, from year to year, when Christ is ruling with a rod of iron! And if the nations still won't obey? "... there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen" -- there are still heathen nations just beginning to learn the way of salvation -- "that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment ... of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles" (verses 18-19).
To receive salvation even the Gentiles will have to keep this festival. Of course, it is commanded forever!
Now we customarily quote Isaiah 66:23, showing that the Sabbath will be kept in the Millennium, as proof we must keep it now. Will we, then, when we read Zechariah 14:16, showing that the Feast of Tabernacles will be kept in the Millennium, be consistent by keeping it today?
Can we qualify as a son of God -- a king and priest -- ruling with Christ on His throne, assisting Christ at that time, if we now refuse to keep these festivals? Notice that Christ kept the Feast of Tabernacles. The Apostle John devoted an entire chapter of his gospel -- the seventh chapter -- to describe what Jesus said and did during the Feast of Tabernacles in the last year of His ministry.
Why Called the Feast of Tabernacles
During the Millennium, the Kingdom of God into which we may be born will rule the nations which are composed of mortal men begotten by the Spirit of God. The billions of mortal men alive during the Millennium will still be heirs to the Kingdom of God. They will not yet have inherited it as long as they remain mortal flesh, for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 15:50). "Ye must be born again" -- "of the Spirit" -- to inherit the Kingdom, said Jesus.
Remember that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were merely heirs when they dwelled on earth (Heb. 11:9). While heirs they dwelled in tabernacles or booths, sojourning in the land of promise. Booths or temporary dwellings pictured that they were not yet inheritors. Thus we read of the Feast of Tabernacles that "ye shall dwell in booths seven days ... 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" (Lev. 23:42-43). Israel dwelled in booths in the wilderness before they entered the promised land. Those booths pictured that they were only heirs. Even during the Millennium, when the Kingdom of God is ruling over mortal nations, the people will be only heirs to the Kingdom. They must overcome and grow in knowledge and wisdom to inherit the promises.
What a marvelous picture. God says of Ephraim (a type of all Israel) that they will "dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast" (Hosea 12:9). Israel, in the wilderness, was a type of all people who must go through trials and tribulations to inherit the promises. They were wanderers, waiting to inherit the promises of salvation.
The contention, held by some sects, that mortal human beings in the Millennium will remain flesh and blood forever is plainly denied by the Feast of Tabernacles, for the festival itself points toward an eternal inheritance.
Besides, after Jesus gathers the Church to Himself, and after He is seated on His throne where we will be ruling with Him, He will gather the nations before Him and say: "Inherit the Kingdom" (Matt. 25:34).
Yet Another Festival!
Did you notice that the Feast of Tabernacles is only the sixth festival? There is yet another -- the seventh!
The Feast of Tabernacles is, strictly speaking, seven days long -- to picture the entire Millennium. Seven is God's number of completeness. Therefore, there must also be seven festivals. Let us notice where it is mentioned: "The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord ... on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you ... it is a [day of] solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein' (Lev. 23:34, 36).
This eighth day, technically a separate feast, is called "the last day, that great day of the feast" (John 7:37).
What does this final holy day represent?
Notice what Jesus preached about on that day: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink ... out of his belly [innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive ... )" (John 7:37-39).
This was Jesus' sermon giving the meaning of the last great day!
Now turn to Revelation 20. After the Millennium, what happens? A resurrection! The dead stand before God. This couldn't include true Christians today, as they will appear before the judgment seat when Christ returns. It couldn't refer to those converted during the Millennium. They have already inherited the Kingdom during the Millennium, after living out a normal life -- span. Those in this resurrection must be those who died in ignorance in past ages! They are not brought to life until after the Millennium (Rev. 20:5).
Pictures the Day of Judgment
This is that judgment day mentioned in Matthew 10:15. It is a time when Gentiles who died in ignorance will be given an opportunity to receive salvation. Ezekiel 16:53-55 makes this very plain. Even those in Israel who died in their sins will be given their first opportunity to understand the truth of God and His way (Ezek. 37). The prophet wrote that God would pour out His Spirit on those resurrected (verse 14). This is precisely the salvation that Jesus mentioned in His sermon on that great day of the feast in the autumn of A.D. 30.
This eighth day, which immediately follows the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, pictures the completion of the plan of redemption. It is just prior to the new heaven and the new earth. All -- parents and children, young and old -- will be resurrected.
Notice that the "book of life" -- typifying salvation -- is opened (Rev. 20:12). Revelation presents the final view of the "judgment day" as the present material heaven and earth are perishing -- and the faithful are receiving their eternal reward at the throne of Christ. The wicked -- those who disobey -- are seen perishing in the lake of fire!
What a marvelous plan! All will have an equal opportunity. And finally, notice in Leviticus 23:37-38. After describing these annual holy days, it says: "These are the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations ... beside the sabbaths of the Lord." We are, then, to keep these besides the Sabbath of the Lord.
SUNDAY is the weekly rest day of this modern churchianity, but the Sabbath is the day of the LORD.
Christmas, New Year's, Easter, and a host of others are the holidays that have come directly from paganism, but these seven annual holy days are the holy days of God! Let us forsake the pagan holidays of this world, and observe the true holy days of God.