Tabernacles and what it means for us today

GOD said to Moses, “Tell the People of Israel, GOD’s Feast of Booths begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. It lasts seven days.”

Lev 23:33-34

We are in the midst of Tabernacles 2012. Tabernacles is the feast where Israelites or Jews in the whole world live in tabernacles or huts for a week to remember living in perishable tents in the desert after being saved out of Egypt. But even more they remember having lived under the canopy of God, the pillar of clouds and fire.

God in the midst of his people.

The bible talks about the feast in Lev 23:33-44, Num 29:12-39, and Deu 16:13-17.

Let us gather some aspects of this feast for our time today.

In Lev 23 there is a whole catalog of feasts. Seven by number. Starting with Pessach, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits, continuing with the Feast of Weeks, and coming to the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. Three of them – the Shalosh R’galim (three times) – require attendance in the presence of God, later at the temple: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks that we call Pentecost, and Tabernacles at the end of the year. For the first two people brought first fruits of the harvest, while the last was a day of thanksgiving at the end of fall harvest.

The seventh feast, the third one to require attendance. Seven means maturity, fullness, perfection. Three stands for the trinity of God.

Tabernacles stands for an ending. It brings to fullness the yearly feast cycle. It is at the end of the year, now the ground can rest. It is the culmination. It is the most expensive feast, too – more on that later. Thankfulness is shown towards God with lavish offerings. And it is a promise for the future. Whoever attends Tabernacles, his land will see rain in the next year (Zch 14:18-19) – a new harvest.

But looking into the prophetic meaning of Tabernacles will make more clear what it means for us now.

We all know the meaning and first time fulfillment of the feasts. Pessach reminds us of Israel being saved from Egypt, Pentecost expresses thanks for harvest and the gift of the law, Tabernacles thanks for a great year and shelter in the desert.

As Christians we further know that all feast are but a shadow, a prophecy towards the new covenant and towards Jesus.

So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.

Col 2:16-17

Pessach stands for the death of Jesus and salvation from sin. Pentecost for the Holy Spirit, the law written not in stone but on our hearts. But Tabernacles?

Pessach and Pentecost in the old covenant are situated at the beginning. But even if instantiated early, Tabernacles is at the end. At the end of the year as well as at the end of the covenant. It is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus that most probably took place during the feast of Tabernacles. God becomes man, lives in our midst. An open bracket is closed, a covenant reaches its end, a season is fulfilled. The prophetic fulfillment in the new covenant has not happened yet, though.

Interestingly enough the feasts in the old covenant describe natural happenings: exodus from Egypt, shelter in the desert, provision, Jesus becomes man, even the external law on stone. In the new covenant the first two feasts have been fulfilled spiritually: restoring our relationship with God, salvation from sin, the law written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Therefore the fulfillment of Tabernacles will also be spiritual: God lives in his people. What started with the first fruit of the Feast of Weeks, the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as an advance, will come into fruition: God’s sons with the fullness of the Spirit. Harvest in the church.

This also is the beginning of a new era. The end game. The sons of God giving themselves as a new Pessach – not for salvation from sin, but as an example for others and a great harvest – prepares for the return of Jesus as a new Pentecost. He prepares the way for the Father, to definitively dwell in the midst of his people. Tabernacles.

Our chore: to come into fullness, mature, grow. We have to get what it means that God lives in us. Jesus at the cross prepared many mansions for the Father – my Father has many mansions – that is: you and me. With God in us, who can be against us? Is there anything impossible for God? What are you waiting for? Why not tell me in a comment?