Feast of Tabernacles

Day 1

What is it?

Read: Leviticus 23:33-44

33 The Lord said to Moses, 34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36 For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.

37 (“‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the Lord—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. 38 These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the Lord.)

39 “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest.40 On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’”44 So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed festivals of the Lord.

Today marks the first of our 8-day devotional in celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. If you’re like me, you might be wondering what the Feast of Tabernacles (aka Feast of Booths aka Ingathering aka Sukkot) even is! Not widely observed or explored by present-day Christian churches, today we’ll look at exactly what it is before diving deeper into its meaning and significance in following days’ devotionals.

The Feast of Tabernacles:

  • ... was first laid out to Moses by God -- He commanded how, when and in what way it must be celebrated.
  • ... is the third of three pilgrimage feasts anchored in the Jewish agricultural cycle. It follows Autumn harvest.
  • ... is celebrated in Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur.
  • ... is a week-long feast which begins and ends with Sabbath rest.
  • ... is predominated by joy, and is commonly referred to by Jews as the “Season of Our Joy.”
  • ... is celebrated with the building of temporary shelters (or “sukkot”) where Jews dwelt for the duration of the feast week.

Facts can feel dry, but try not to dismiss the details. In doing so, you’ll lose out on the richness of the story -- a story that is, after all, part of our heritage. Instead, spend a little time bringing the story alive in your mind: Why do you think God commanded temporary shelters to be made and inhabited? What could that mean? What could be the significance of celebrating the final harvest of the year? Why Sabbath rest? Considering these questions and more will prime your mind and heart for a deeper dive into our detail-oriented Father. Hint: See if you can find “traces” of Jesus dating back all the way to this ancient feast.