The Feast of Tabernacles
Sabbath Day Sermon: Saturday 21 September 2002
Brethren and sisters, I welcome you in the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus) the Messiah to this Feast of Ingathering, also known as the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, which in the Hebrew is called Sukkot. It is the final and most important festival of the sacred year we have been commanded to celebrate by Yahweh as a "lasting ordinance", instruction for which in Scripture concludes with the words: "I am Yahweh your Elohim". Five days ago today we celebrated Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The contrast between the two festivals could not be greater - from the most solemn of festivals to the most joyous one. Sukkot lasts for seven days and ends on the 21st day of the Hebrew month of Tishri - and for those of you who have an eye for divine symbolism, you will notice that the number 21 is a triple multiple of the number 7, the number of completion, or in other words, 777. Tishri is also the seventh month. Sukkot marks not only the end of the annual cycle of festivals (excluding the minor festivals of Hanukkah and Purim), but is also a prophetic pointer to a day which will mark the full end of this dispensation and the beginning of the Millennial World. And so whilst we celebrate this festival by remembering an event in the past, we are also celebrating its future fulfilment when this evil world system comes to an end and Yah'shua (Jesus) rules here in peace and justice.
Over the last few years we have been studying the many astonishing spiritual patterns which are built into these Hebrew festivals we are commanded to celebrate. Today I want to look at another aspect of the Seven Major Festivals and that is to show you how they reveal Yahweh's plan of salvation.
Salvation, as everyone knows, has always been made available through faith and this is pictured in the physical salvation of Israel from Egypt. What we observe in the various saving events of this chosen nation are types of the process of salvation not just of the body but of the whole soul - body and spirit. As we look at the faith of ancient Israel we see immediately that this is not some passive mental assent to some religious beliefs but is an alive response to those beliefs. Religious belief is always the springboard to religious action, and the key to this response is always obedience. This "obedience", which consists of things we are required to do, may be called "works". These works are the fruit or evidence of one's faith.
We can take a simple example to illustrate the point. When Yahweh gave the Israelites instructions on how to escape the last of the ten plagues in Egypt, it consisted of things which they had to do, and amongst these was the physical application of blood to their door posts. What, for example, do you suppose would have been the fate of a Hebrew family who believed the revelation given to Moses but who did not apply the blood to their door post? Would their faith have saved them? Of course not. When the destroying angel passed by their homes, he would not have seen their "faith" but the absence of the evidence of that faith, namely, blood on the door posts. And the result would have been the death of the firstborn in that house. From this simple illustration from Pesach or Passover we see that there are two types of faith, and that the first type is religiously useless, because it does not save. A faith which is not accompanied by obedience that leads to actions, says the apostle James, is a dead faith (Jas.2:20,26). Even if that family upon hearing the revelation to Moses were filled with inexplicable joy and love filled their hearts, would they have been saved from the destroying angel if they had not carried out the instructions? Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows the answer to that one. And yet we have people claiming that this dead faith - a faith without works - saves. It doesn't. It is even more absurd than faithlessness because it contains the answers to true faith within it. Dead faith - passive assent - kills. We learn from this that faith which responds in obedience saves, and all else is useless.
Pesach (Passover) serves as a perfect illustration of saving faith. It is the first of our annual festivals. Passover serves as our starting place for our salvation in Yahweh, namely, trusting in the blood of the Lamb of God and then applying it to the door posts of our souls. It means that we not only passively believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) died on the Cross for our sins but that we actually apply it to our lives! We apply it to the door posts of our souls. And if you will remember, I once preached to you about these 12 Doors of the human body. Can anyone remember what they are? They consist of 2 ears (though which sound passes), 2 eyes (through which light passes), 2 nostrils (through which air passes), 1 mouth (through which food, air and sound pass), 2 breasts (through which milk passes), 1 anus (though which solid waste passes), and 1 dual sexual-excretory organ (though which liquid waste and sexual fluids pass). As you study the Bible you will find that salvation applies to each and every one of these doors both physically and spiritually, for each of these body organs symbolises a spiritual process.
For instance, we are given commandments to use our mouth for only one kind of speech. The kind of things we say indicate whether we have been saved or not. Similarly, the sexual organs may only be used within a specific context - marriage - and in a specific way (for example, intercourse during menstruation is forbidden). When we do what scriptures say, we are applying the blood of Christ to our sex life and our works indicate that we have been saved in this area. A person who swears or a person who commits adultery demonstrates, irrespective of what he may believe about salvation, that he is not saved in those two areas! His works prove that the blood of Christ has not been applied to the door posts of his mouth and sex organ and that he is impure and defiled.
By applying the blood of the Lamb to the physical and spiritual door posts of our soul, so we are guarded against sin, and the judgement of Yahweh "passes us by", i.e. we fulfil the intent of Passover or Pesach. Obedience to the Festival of Pesach in turn means obedience to the commandments which are its fruit, and which were given to the children of Israel through Moses. Once we are saved by our faith in Yahweh by trusting in the Blood of the Lamb, with obedience to Him as our personal Passover, one comes to the next stage in the Plan of Salvation, namely Chag haMatzah, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast immediately follows "faith in Yahweh, faith in the blood of His Son, and faith in His Word" where obedience really comes to the forefront. What does leaven represent? Sin. What does this festival command us to do? Get the leaven out of our homes, in other words, get sin out of our lives. Sin is defined by Yahweh as transgression of Torah or Law. Since sin is "transgression of the Law" then getting this "breaking Yahweh's commandments" out of our lives means that we must grow in our understanding of Yahweh's Torah which frames our respective covenants. This is a sanctification whereby, claiming the blood of Christ for cleansing, we make ourselves acceptable vessels for the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to indwell through repentance and obedience to the Word of God!
Now there is a spiritual dynamic at work in our lives. As we repent and become cleansed by the blood of Christ through a heightened obedience to Torah, then the fulfilment of our obedience is found in Shavuot or Pentecost. We have just personally experienced our own Passover where Yahweh's judgement passes over us through our faith in the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus) His Son, and obedience to His Word. As our obedience grows then Yahweh comes to dwell in us to the degree that we are worthy vessels. As we find in Israel we find in our lives. These first three festivals are called the Spring Festivals and they are observed in the first rainy season in Israel.
Do you get the picture so far? There is an intimate interaction between faith and obedience which leads to greater sanctification and a greater filling of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). When the Ruach (Spirit) came in tongues of fire on the first believers it was to indicate a living fulfilment of Pentecost as a complete indwelling of God. It came only because of the blood of Christ at Passover. The blood is the protecting seal and the cleansing instrument.
But is this the end? Judging by what we see in many of the churches (most don't even take believers this far), one would think so. But these are only three of the seven major festivals of Yahweh. Our Christian life does not end at Pentecost! But what else could there be, you might ask? And to help you understand this, I need to point out to you that in Israel there are two rainy seasons separated by a long dry period. Understanding the prophetic significance of this will help many of you understand why may faithful believers go through great travail in their discipleship.
We too have identical spiritual seasons in our lives. We get all excited when we come to Yahweh through His Son, turn from sin, and are filled with His Ruach (Spirit). But in time the day to day drudgery of life wears us down. We, like Israel, experience our own dry period as symbolised by a lifetime of temptation and drudgery. We are confronted daily of living lives that successfully overcome, or are themselves overcome. Once we are saved, cleansed, and filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), we are equipped to live out our lives where we must deal with the good and the bad as we encounter them in life. Sometimes life is hard as seen in the dry season following Pentecost; yet we have seen the Ruach (Spirit) comfort and sustain us throughout the middle and autumn (fall) years of our lives.
After the dry season of Israel and our lives we come to the next festival which is Yom Teruah which we recently celebrated. On the one hand it can represent our death and the end of life in this world, and on the other, the announcement of the return of Yah'shua (Jesus). Nine days later (333) He comes to judge the world at Yom Kippur, and five days after that on the '777' (21st) day of the 7th month, He establishes universal Torah and government upon the earth.
This annual cycle of observance of Israel's sacred feasts is called in the Hebrew a moed or a "rehearsal". What Yahweh intends is that we all observe these "rehearsals" in order to learn Yahweh's true Plan of Salvation and in so doing make our calling and election sure so that we may become the allegorical Bride, properly cleansed through obedience and application of the blood of the Bridegroom. Yahweh repeated His salvation message to His people year after year - first with the temporary covering of animals' blood, and then with the eternal covering of the Blood of the Messiah, so that none of us get it wrong!
What a different Gospel we hear from the majority of the paganised churches! All we have to do, according to them, is passively believe. And even when more than passive faith is required, it is often obedience to false traditions which do not teach the Plan of Salvation.
"And Yah'shua (Jesus) answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding." ' "But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' "So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "For many are called, but few are chosen"" (Matt.22:1-14, NKJV).
Brethren and sisters, it is not enough to respond to the invitation to come to Christ! You have to come properly dressed for the final banquet, which is Sukkot. If accepting Christ automatically resulted in our being "covered", why did this man come improperly dressed? We are not at the wedding yet - that has get to come. We have been invited, though, and must prepare for it. That means we have to get "kitted out". We must receive the blood of the Lamb freely offered and apply it to the door posts of our bodies and lives. We have to get cleaned out by obedience to Torah. Those who have been possessed by demons know that accepting Christ is not enough - breaking satanic covenants by the blood of Christ must be done too. The blood must be used practically.
In Leviticus 23:43, where this commandment to observe Sukkot was given, we read:
"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; I am Yahweh your Elohim".
These three autumnal festivals speak of a future time when men will again tabernacle with Yahweh, when He will dwell with them and they with Him:
"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. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away"" (Rev.21:3-4, NKJV).
They speak of the day when all nations will gather to Jerusalem (Zech.8:22; 14:16) to celebrate Sukkot - the Feast of Tabernacles. This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. If that is so, then why do Christians still refuse to celebrate it? And if we are called to celebrate one festival, why not all the rest? "Oh, but that's for a future time!" may come the excuse. But is it? Why would Paul command the celebration of the first of the festivals, or Passover:
"...purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor.5:7-8, NKJV).
We are to celebrate the feast still today but with pure hearts and in Christ. And a time is coming when all nations will come to Jerusalem to do so (Zech.14). Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is the tabernacle or dwelling place of Yahweh. In Him dwelled the fullness of the Elohim - of God (Jn.1:14; Col.2:9), and the Elohim dwells in our midst through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) (Mt.18:20). Yah'shua will Himself ultimately fulfil the Feast of Tabernacles at His Second Coming and there will be a literal rest for planet earth and all its inhabitants. Until then we can find rest in our souls.
My Sukkot message today is a simple one: the Festivals of Yahweh have been given to us as moed or a rehearsal of the Plan of Salvation, which shows us that faith in Yahweh through the blood of His Son Yah'shua (Jesus) is ultimately useless unless it leads to concrete obedience of Torah. It is this obedience that leads to the progressive cleansing of our souls that leads to an increased indwelling of the Ruach (Spirit). And it is this presence of the Elohim (God) that is our wedding garment - not merely a jurisdictional salvation (the blood on the door posts) but a literal one whereby the blood transforms our very natures to be like Him.
Are you without Christ? If you are, the destroyer will not pass you by but claim you at the end of life. Are you living a lawless life as a Christian - a life without Torah? Then you may find yourself going up to the wedding feast of the Lamb without wedding garments and being thrown out! If that bothers you - as it should - then perhaps it is time to take a careful look at Yahweh's Plan of Salvation through obediently living the annual festivals of Israel. Then you will know whether you are pointing towards your personal Sukkot and a place of joy in the eternities, or to the outer darkness warned of by Yah'shua (Jesus).
As believers in Messiah walking in Torah we enter Sukkot with festive and joyful hearts. Sukkot is the future world we are looking forward to where we may rest eternally in the Most High. May we celebrate over the next eight days it in that spirit. Amen.
This page was created on 2 October 2002
Last updated on 2 October 2002
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