Month 7:15, Week 2:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5940:191 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 15 October 2016
Sukkot 2016 I
We Shall Rejoice in Yahweh!
Chag sameach Sukkot and Shabbat Shalom kol beit Yisra'el and Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT)! Here we are once again, seated under a sukkah or tent, ready to begin Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles!
The Feast of Rejoicing
This is the seventh and last feast  in which Yahweh commands us to rejoice, or as George Whitten amusingly puts it, He commands us to make the 'choice to rejoice'! As the capstone of the seven annual festivals and the summit of our spiritual climb, we need to understand why Yahweh has commanded us to observe it and ask ourselves how it is possible to fulfil the command to 'rejoice' when all around us the world is falling to pieces and we may have many great problems which have not yet gone away or been resolved.
Not a 'Jewish' Feast
I often get people emailing me expressing an interest in celebrating the 'Jewish festivals' and it greatly surprises them when I tell them that these divine moedim or appointments aren't 'Jewish', let alone 'Israelite'. See for yourself in Leviticus 23:
The Owner of the Feasts
"Yahweh said to Moses, 'Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'These are My appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of Yahweh, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies" (Lev.23:1-2, NIV).
These feasts are nobody's feasts - not the Jews' feasts, not the Israelies' feasts, not our feasts - they are YAHWEH'S FEASTS which, I am sure will agree, must make them rather important. They have the divine, authoritative stamp or imprimatur on them which you will not find on celebrations like 'Christmas' or 'Easter' which aren't even mentioned in the Bible, except for 'Easter' which is the totally wrong translation of the Greek pasha or the Hebrew pesach, meaning 'passover', in the King James Version. Moreover, we discover Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) specifically observing Sukkot in John 7:1,10 in accordance with the mitzvah (commandment). Since, as the New Testament testifies, Yah'shua (Jesus) never did or said anything His Father did not tell Him to do or say, and since we are supposed to be imitating the Saviour in our conduct and doctrine, then it is pretty obvious we are supposed to do the same thing. And that is why we are assembled here again, which I think is about the 17th time for my family.
The Feast of Ingathering and Plenty
Sukkot is not only known as the Feast of Tabernacles but also the Feast of Ingathering because in the autumn (fall) in the Holy Land the grapes, dates, pomegranates, olives, and other fruits were gathered in the final harvest. Up here in Sweden, the extreme north, the autumn (fall) harvest is long over, but in Israel it is being completed. Anciently this was a time of great jubilation and plenty, and for this reason it was a festival which everyone looked forward to, as we do today! I know this is the children's favourite festival in my own family.
An Appointment to Meet With Yahweh
So why would Yahweh want us to observe this ancient festival, which he declares is His, today? Because He wants us to learn key lessons from it as well as to partake of the Ruach haShibi'i, the seventh of the seven Ruachot (Spirits)  which He sends out from Heaven to the earth and to His people in order to bless them. We are keeping a divine appointment, even as it is written:
Preparing Through Tithing
"These are my appointed feasts (moedim), the appointed feasts (moedim) of Yahweh, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies" (Lev.23:2, NIV).
This is a meeting-time with Him - He promises to meet with us on these sacred occasions in a special way, which ought to be incentive enough to attend. But we also know there are many wonderful things to be had, and not just the good food! Not only that - because it is so important - we are to prepare for it way in advance of the actual date. How do we do that? By tithing in the way He has commanded:
A Family Occasion
"You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before Yahweh your Elohim (God), in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear Yahweh your Elohim (God) always. But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where Yahweh your Elohim (God) chooses to put His name is too far from you, when Yahweh your Elohim (God) has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which Yahweh your Elohim (God) chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before Yahweh your Elohim (God), and you shall rejoice, you and your household" (Deut 14:22-26, NKJV).
This is a great family celebration. Anciently, the Israelites would come up to Jerusalem. Today, families gather with other families to share the feast together, and they are to save their tithes up in order to do this - for travel, food and accommodation. The festivals tithe is one third of the tenth of your increase, the other two-thirds being for the ministry and for the poor, respectively, a doctrine you do not find taught in the churches. Worse, those churches which do tithe normally demand the whole tenth for themselves, which is robbery! - robbery of the poor and robbery of Yahweh's glory and honour.
How Tithing-Churches Rob Yahweh
How is Yahweh robbed? Consider the reason He gives for coming up to the Festival of Sukkot: "that you may learn to fear (revere, stand in awe of) Yahweh your Elohim (God) always". We gather to celebrate for HIM, to recognise His awesome power that creates the universe and controls our destiny - to love, honour and respect Him as the Great Elohim (God) of Ahavah (Love) that He is. How and why we do that we shall find out in a minute.
The New Covenant and the Festivals
Those of you who are new to the festivals may be wondering what these have to do with the New Covenant. First of all, they were observed by the early messianic community (church) and events like the birth, death and resurrection of the Messiah were understood to be both foretold and alive in the spring festivals. So there was no separate 'christmas' or 'easter' observation by the first believers - these were pagan festivals to which a veneer of Christianity was added and remain pagan. As Torah-obedient believers, we celebrate the birth of Messiah when it actually happened (in the spring  - Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn believes it was on the Hebrew New Year or Aviv 1 ), His death at Pesach (Passover) and the resurrection at Yom haBikkurim (Day of Firstfruits).
Revelation and Divine Tavnith
The festivals are jam-packed with revelation and all centre on the Messiah...which is why they are so important. Indeed, they depict the divine tavnith (pattern) of the seven steps of the salvation process and preparation of the mystical Bride of Messiah:
Many Returning to the Festivals
The festivals were designed as a means to remember and apply these truths, especially and originally for a people who were not blessed with Bibles as we are today. More and more believers are returning to the festivals as they sense the moving of the Ruach (Spirit) in their lives to do so. They have become aware that in so doing that they are honouring and worshipping El Elyon (the Most High) in a way that is pleasing to Him and are reaping the blessings like us.
Taking a Break
Today - and the seven days that follow it - are a special appointment time with Yahweh. Three of the eight days are high sabbaths. As a family we take a week off, a break from work and schooling, though for the last year we have been taking a 'sabbatical' here in MLT. This is also the time we have traditionally had our annual conferences and is the main gathering time for messianic evangelicals.
The Pilgrim Festivals
Sukkot is one of the three obligatory Pilgrim festivals when we are commanded to assemble with others of like mind (the other two being Pesach and Shavu'ot). The other festivals may be observed at home though others of like mind who live nearby one another also gather together then whenever they can.
The Heavenly Rhythm
The luni-solar biblical calendar revolves around these annual festivals together with the weekly sabbaths and montly new moons. This is the 'rhythm' of Yahweh's people and has been since the beginning. And how very different it is from the 'rhythm' of orthodox Christians and Messianic Jews who follow pagan calendars and pagan festivals.
The Transfiguration and Sukkot
Signifying the importance of Sukkot, a well-known incident is recorded in the New Testament that we know to have been Sukkot:
An Understandable Reaction
"After six days Yah'shua (Jesus) took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There He was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Yah'shua (Jesus). Peter said to Yah'shua (Jesus), 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three sukkot (shelters, booths, tabernacles) - one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and envelopped them, and a voice came from the cloud: 'This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!' Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Yah'shua (Jesus). As they were coming down the mountain, Yah'shua (Jesus) gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what 'rising from the dead' meant" (Mark 9:2-10, NIV)
There is no reason why Peter would ask Yah'shua (Jesus) if he should make three "shelters" (NIV), "booths" (AENT), "tabernacles" (NKJV) or "sukkot" (OJB) if this was not the time of the Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles). Of course, Peter had no idea Yah'shua's (Jesus') heavenly 'guests' weren't going to stay around and Peter said what he did because he didn't know what else to say. His reaction, though, is understandable given the time of the year. So we can date this event to the autumn and to the seventh month of the biblical calendar.
The Feast and Day of Yahweh
What is the significance of the Transfiguration happening on Sukkot? This was, beyond a doubt, a 'glory' event and this is perhaps why also the moed (appointment) is known as the Feast of Yahweh (Lev.23:39,41) and even "the feast" (1 Ki.8:2,65; 12:32) as though setting it apart in a special way from all the others. Some say there is a parallel between this 'Feast of Yahweh' and the 'Day of Yahweh', the day of final judgment.
Sukkot is the Great Union of the Bride with the Bridegroom at the end of the Age, when wickedness is abolished and the Millennial Era is usshered in. It is both a grand celebration and a 'rest of rests' par excellence, marking the end of mankind's struggles and a thousand years of shalom (peace). The temporary shelters, booths, tabernacles or sukkot which families constructed was to remind them of Yahweh's protection during the First Exodus (Lev.23:42-43), the humble circumstances of their wanderings, as well as the tenuousness of life. We would do well to remember the same, one of the many reasons we observe this feast. We are, like those Israelites passing through the desert, passing through this life with our eyes set on a goal beyond, a life that is fleeting. We are strangers and pilgrims on earth looking forward to a better world.
Peter Understood the Link
Peter made the connection between the Kingdom of Elohim (God) and temporary shelters. He came to realise, as must we, that what's important to focus on is on what's permanent, eternal life in the Kingdom of Elohim (God):
How Sukkot Has Been Changed
"I consider it my duty, as long as I live in the temporary dwelling of this body, to stimulate you by these reminders" (2 Pet.1:12, JBP).
Since the Babylonian exile, lots of new observances were added by the Judahites and, after the Diaspora, latterly by the Jews: the lighting of giant menorahs (seven-armed candlearbres) in the temple courtyard, all-night dancing to flutes by torchlight, dawn processions ending with libations of water and wine at the brazen altar, prayers for rain and resurrection of the dead, the cohenim (priests) marching round the altar and the people carrying the fruit and waving palm branches. So passionate had the people become about these later additions not prescribed by Torah that when the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) Alexander Jannaeus (~100 BC) refused to offer the libations properly, troops called to quell the ensuing riot left 6,000 people dead .
Yah'shua Observed Sukkot
We know that Yah'shua (Jesus) observed Sukkot for His whereabouts on the third or fourth day of the festival is recorded in Scripture:
The Celebratory Habit of Our Messiah
"About the middle of the feast Yah'shua (Jesus) went up into the temple and began teaching" (Jn.7:14, ESV).
All the talmidim (disciples) expected Yah'shua (Jesus) to be at the Feast because quite obviously it had been His lifelong practice to do so. Even when His life was in danger, He was obedient to the mitzvah (commandment). He celebrated Sukkot every year and taught about its significance, and His talmidim (disciples) imitated Him, as should we:
"On this mountain Yahweh Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine -- the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever. Yahweh-Elohim will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth. Yahweh has spoken" (Isa.25:6-8, NIV).
In those harsh conditions of the Sinai wilderness, the people had to learn dependence on Yahweh for all their provisions. The children of the Second Exodus must learn the same as they too pass through the harshness of this world as evil reaches its pinnacle before its final judgment. Then, as now, Yahweh provides for all our needs, giving them fresh water and manna from heaven. And He provided, in the meridian of time, a Saviour who can give us eternal chayim (life). All of these things, and more, we celebrate at this Feast.
A Universal Observance
This is a special time He has given to us so that we can have a special time to be with Him. We are commanded to observe it for our own good because we need this spiritual boost because of what is to come. The Feast depicts prophetically a time when all mankind will celebrate the returning Messiah and all the evil is brought to an end. He will return to the greatest harvest of souls ever. We're even told by the nevi'im (prophets) that Sukkot will be celebrated in the Millennium, giving the lie to the orthodox Christian claim that Elohim (God) did away with the festivals on the cross:
A Feast for All Nations
"Then everyone who survives [the Great Tribulation] of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles, Sukkot). And if any of the families do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which Yahweh afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles, Sukkot). This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles, Sukkot)" (Zech.14:16-19, ESV).
So we see that is is a feast for all nations, not just for Israel. The observance of the feasts, sabbaths and new moons will be a part of the global restoration of all things which lead to shalom (peace) and harmony with Elohim (God). This Feast foreshadows a changed world when people will say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the Elohim (God) of Jacob; that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the Davar (Word) of Yahweh from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat the sword into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Is.2:3-4, NRSV).
Everyone will annually come up to Sukkot and learn the ways of ahavah (love). The Torah will be fully internalised - written on their hearts - and they will learn the way of perfection. All of humanity will finally be restored to right relationship with the Creator, Yahweh-Elohim.
Of Preparation and Promises
Brethren and sisters, this is a time for rejoicing indeed. Not only have we prepared for the tribulation that is about to start, quite possibly at the end of this Sukkot season, but we have so many promises to look forward to being fulfilled. Speaking of a time like this one, Yahweh has said:
Passing on the Baton to the Next Generation
"In that day sing to her,
"'A vineyard of red wine!
I, Yahweh, keep it,
I water it every moment;
Lest any hurt it,
I keep it night and day.
Fury is not in Me.
Who would set briers and thorns
Against Me in battle?
I would go through them,
I would burn them together.
Or let him take hold of My strength,
That he may make peace with Me;
And he shall make peace with Me.'
"Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob;
Israel shall blossom and bud,
And fill the face of the world with fruit"
The work of my generation will soon be at an end. Once the coming, or 'Lesser', Tribulation has passed, and the last generation has received its metaphorical 'baptism of fire' and proven itself in battle, it will receive the sceptre that we have been given and struggled to be worthy of. We will guard the Fortress and send out the Armies and they will see the mighty Hand of our Elohim (God) displayed, and in so seeing, gain confidence and grow in emunah (faith). They will witness the Covenant of Wonders - of Miracles - in action, and be astounded. And they will rejoice, and greater shall be their rejoicing each Sukkot as the Mighty One reveals Himself more and more. They will grow and they will mature, and then we will pass on, and rejoin them when the Master returns in the air:
"Great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts" (Ps.145:3-4, NKJV).
May the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with you today and in the days of the Feast to come. And may His simcha (joy) fill our hearts. Amen.
Continued in Part 2
 Omitting Shemini Atseret or the 'Last Great Day' (the 8th day of the Sukkot season) for the present which technically and prophetically points to the inauguration the Millennium
 Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6
 Messianics dispute this with most observing it at this time of the year, at Sukkot and some at other times - no serious scholar, Christian or Messianic, now believes He was born on 25 December (Protestant, Catholic) or 6 January (Eastern Orthodox)
 Although Messianic Evangelicals believe He was born 14 days later on Aviv 14, the same day He died, and in order to separate the two events out, we have taken to observing it on Aviv 1 like Cahn
 Josephus, Antiquities 13.372-373
 David Noel Freedman (ed.), Eeerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (William B. Eeerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan: 2000), pp.1270-1271
 Scott Ashley, A Little-Known Feast of the Bible (Beyond Today Magazine, September-October 2016), p.3
 Steve Myers, Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles in Today's World (Beyond Today Magazine, September-October 2016), pp.22-24)