Sons To Glory Newsletter #13
Tabernacles - October 20, 2011

 

Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles

by Paul Jablonowski

October 20, 2011

Happy Feast of Tabernacles!

This year I was fortunate enough to be able to take off work for the entire week to celebrate Tabernacles. My three boys have been celebrating the feast of Tabernacles all of their lives. They always look forward to it and get excited when we tell them that Tabernacles is finally here. We do different things each year, but usually it involves some type of camping out. Sometimes we will make a tabernacle indoors, sometimes it will be a sukkah in the backyard, or sometimes we will go to a far away campsite in a tent. But it is always a fun and joyous occasion. This year we made a tabernacle out of our old trampoline in the backyard and spent a few nights sleeping under the stars.

We also spent three days in Mentone Alabama helping our oldest son Joshua on his Eagle Scout project. Josh has done a great job planning for his Eagle project during the past few months, and it was during this year's feast of Tabernacles that we implemented his plan to clear out a Youth Conservation Corp trail in the Little River Canyon National Preserve. Pictured here is the crew that helped Josh chainsaw and weed-wack this half-mile hiking trail which serves to bring in children from the inner cities who get in trouble. This trail is used to help these kids work on team building projects while enjoying God's wonderful creation in the process. Both of Josh's grandfathers and grandmothers were able to help us during these three fun days together. His two brothers and a few scout friends were also volunteers.

The feast of tabernacles is a joyous 7 day festival of thanksgiving and praise to Yahweh for all that He has done for us throughout the year. The ancient Israelites would celebrate these days by building small booths called "sukkahs" which is why the Jewish people call this feast "Sukkot" (Succoth). They would then "camp out" in these temporary shelters as a reminder of their 40 years of wilderness wanderings in the desert where God provided for all their needs. Likewise today we need constant reminders to be thankful for how God provides for us. It is most likely that the first American pilgrims were celebrating Tabernacles which later became our better known Thanksgiving holiday. (1)

Tabernacles is also known as the Feast of Ingathering because it was a harvest festival celebrating the end of the harvest season. The firstfruits were harvested during Passover, but the general harvest (grain, fruits and vegetables) finished during Tabernacles. This was another reason to be thankful to Yahweh for our food in due season. The sukkoth booths were usually decorated with various fruits and vegetables like pumpkins, grapes and wheat. Many of the modern day Harvest festivals were derived from Tabernacles. (2)

Finally, the ancient Israelites would build their booths with 4 different types of tree branches according to the scriptures (Leviticus 23:40) - 1) beautiful flower trees, 2) enduring palm trees, 3) leafy hardwood trees, and 4) flexible willow trees. Trees in the bible are often symbolic of men. So, this represents unity in diversity where these 4 different types of wood (personalities of people) were bound together into a "lulav" and waved in worship to God for His goodness and mercy during this feast. 1 Peter 4:9-10 says, "Above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."

My family attended a Tabernacles celebration here in Huntsville Alabama where we built a sukkah and sang songs of praise to Jesus outdoors. It was a large picnic celebration where we saw many people that we had not seen in years. It was like a family reunion where I saw some of the young children that I used to teach who have now grown up into young adults. There was also a citywide Tabernacles celebration near the Tennessee River. Here is a flyer that shows the many different local fellowships who participated in this Christian unity celebration.

I am aware of the many good teachings regarding the prophetic implications of Tabernacles. Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of Passover during His first coming. He also fulfilled Pentecost by pouring out His Holy Spirit after His resurrection. But Jesus has yet to fulfill this third major feast of Tabernacles. This will occur during His second coming in our generation! This includes the promise of God to "tabernacle" among His people and fully dwell within us which is the ultimate purpose of God in Christ Jesus (Col. 1:27). Until then, it is important to "keep" the feast of tabernacles as Zechariah 14:16-21 tells us that one day, during the millennial reign of Christ, ALL nations will keep this thanksgiving festival of Yahweh: "And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles."

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(1) This article by Robert Somerville is a good overview of the Feast of Tabernacles - http://awarenessministry.org/feastoftabernaclessuccoth.htm

(2) A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays by Robin Scarlata & Linda Pierce is a great book on ways Christians can celebrate Tabernacles - http://heartofwisdom.com/biblicalholidays/
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