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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's ReadingToday is the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Throughout this special period of time, I'd like to deviate from my normal commentary where I discuss a special part of the day's Bible reading. I'll continue to provide the correct Bible reading assignment of course, so that you will be able to read the whole Bible this year, as promised. But, I would like to reserve the commentary portion to the subject of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), as that is most appropriate to this spiritual time. This means that, over the next seven days, each day's commentary will take you through the spiritual lessons and meanings of this holy appointed time. It is my prayer that, in these Tabernacles studies, you will find a true, spiritual Feast!
In this way, we'll be able to keep the Feast of Tabernacles together, even though my husband and I are in Australia keeping the Feast with some dear believers Down Under and are not hosting a Fall Retreat this year.
Today is the first of a short series of worships designed to help you understand and better appreciate the spiritual meaning of Tabernacles. As we study the types of the Feast of Tabernacles we will be learning what these prophetic shadow pictures have to teach us about our own walk with Yahweh.This morning, we will be looking at the purpose of Sukkot, which is the Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles.
To look at the Feast of Tabernacles in the Torah, let's turn to Leviticus 23:34-44:
Leviticus 23:34-44 "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days unto Yahweh. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. These are the feasts of Yahweh, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh...
Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto Yahweh seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before Yahweh your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a Feast unto Yahweh seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 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 God. And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of Yahweh."
In Leviticus 23, we find that this feast is called the Feast of Tabernacles. The word “Tabernacles” is translated from the Hebrew word sûkkâh (Strong’s number 5521). It means “a booth, cottage, pavilion, tabernacle and tent.”
This word is used 31 times in the Old Testament. While this word is used at times to show a dwelling place both for man and animals, it is most significantly referenced as being the dwelling place of Yahweh. In 2 Samuel 22:7, we find the word sukkah translated as the Pavilion (the Temple) of Yahweh, from which He arises to deliver His people. It says:
Here the sukkot is the comforting place of Yahweh’s Presence. And it is from His sukkot that we find help and deliverance.Psalm 22:7 "In my distress I called upon Yahweh, and cried to my God: and He did hear my voice out of His Temple, and my cry did enter into His Ears."
The primary concept of Tabernacles is about preparing a dwelling place for Yahweh… not for us. He desires to Tabernacle (or dwell) with us. As it says in Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
This is the great event which the Feast of Tabernacles points to and prepares us for every year.
What do I mean when I say that keeping the Feast of Tabernacles today helps us prepare and become fitted for the final fulfillment of Tabernacles in the near future? Yahweh’s feasts, in Leviticus 23, are called “holy convocations.” The word “convocations” is translated from the Hebrew word mikraw. In the Strong’s Concordance, we find that mikraw not only has to do with congregating for the worship of Yahweh on these days, it also means “rehearsal.”
In school, when there is going to be a coming program, the children practice in many rehearsals to hone their skills and ensure that the performance will go off well and be a blessing. Similarly, the feasts of Yahweh are practice sessions which help us prepare for the final fulfillment.
So, how can we prepare to dwell with our wonderful and holy God someday soon? We need to first have prepared our hearts that WE become a fit dwelling place for Him – a holy sanctuary – now! As the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, WE are Yahweh’s Tabernacle – His sanctuary.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”
To understand more fully what is involved in becoming Yahweh’s holy sanctuary. Let us look at the wilderness sanctuary from a more personal perspective. In Exodus 25:8 we read that Yahweh wanted to dwell or tabernacle with His people. In order for Him to do this, the wilderness tabernacle needed to be built.
Exodus 25:8 “And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”
Solomon also understood that the Feast of Tabernacles is about dwelling with our Holy God. This is why he chose the Feast of Tabernacles as the time to bring the Ark of the Covenant and dedicate Yahweh’s new temple.
As it says in 1 Kings 7:51-8:3
“So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of Yahweh. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated; even the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of Yahweh… And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the Feast... which is the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.”
At this point, we’re going to look at the Wilderness Tabernacle carefully. As we do, the necessary ingredients for becoming a fit Tabernacle for YAH’s Presence will become plain.
The sanctuary shows us the transformation that takes place as we are changed from a self-centered, worldly being to a Christ-centered, beautiful new Creature.
First, outside of the sanctuary courtyard we are like the worm. We are selfishly motivated. We are not a creature of blessing and our characters are far from lovely. In this analogy, victory over sin is likened to flying. The worm certainly can’t fly. As the Psalmist wrote:
Psalm 22:6 “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.”
Paul also described our unsaved state, in Romans 7:23-24:
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
So on the line next to the worm, list these verses as a reminder that outside the sanctuary experience we are unlovely, unchanged and unsaved.
The first part of the sanctuary that we experience is the door. This door points to Yahshua, Who is our WAY of Salvation. As it says in John 14:6:
“Yahshua saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”
Messiah has many roles in our lives. In His role as our Door to Life, He points sinners toward Him, saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28. He says,
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” John 10:9.
In John 10:16 – Yahshua uses sheep to represent people: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and THERE SHALL BE ONE FOLD, AND ONE SHEPHERD.”
“Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by THE DOOR INTO THE SHEEPFOLD, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” John 10:1.
When we find the TRUE DOOR THAT LEADS INTO THE SANCTUARY, where we find THE ONE FOLD, AND ONE SHEPHERD, things CHANGE! We read about it in Zechariah 3:4;
“And he (God) answered and spake unto those that stood before him (ministering angels – Hebrews 1:13, 14), saying, Take away the filthy garment from him (the sinner). And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity (sins) to pass from thee, AND I WILL CLOTHE THEE WITH A CHANGE OF RAIMENT.”
This is the beautiful promise to all who will enter Life through the Door of Christ’s provision for us.
Now let’s look at the courtyard wall.
Around the courtyard of the sanctuary, there was a white, linen wall. This wall was a reminder that the sanctuary of God is to be separated and set apart from the world.
2 Corinthians 6:16-18 “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith Yahweh, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith Yahweh Almighty.”
We can’t come to Yahweh and still keep part of our hearts in the world. Whatever is of the realm of sin must be left behind in order to enter into a deep relationship with God. This process of separating from the sins of the world is not one to be taken lightly. Yahweh will not dwell in an unfit temple. And while He does the work in us to make us fit temples, He only does this full work in us if we choose Him with our whole hearts.
Thus we see that becoming a sanctuary or a tabernacle for Yahweh to dwell requires total surrender on our parts. As it says in James 4:8
“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
Now let’s look at the first piece of furniture in the courtyard: the alter of burnt offering.
The brazen altar of burnt offering was where the animals were sacrificed in the sanctuary service. This pointed to Yahshua’s death on the Cross.
The significance of this altar being the first thing you encounter shows us that personally encountering the Cross is pivotal in converting our hearts. In addition, as we grow to love the Saviour, and view sin in light of what it did to Him on the Cross, our favorite sins begin to look unattractive, even grotesque in our eyes.
Finally, the cross is not just where Yahshua died for me. It is also an experience I must have. As it explains in Romans 6:6-13:
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin… Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Yahshua Christ our Sovereign. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
Alright, now let’s continue to the spiritual significance of the laver.
The laver was a bronze basin where the priests washed. It is a symbol of baptism and spiritual rebirth. As the Bible tells us in Romans 6:3-4,
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Yahshua Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
This point is further explained in 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
In nature, before a caterpillar can become a butterfly, it must actually change on a molecular level into that lovely new creature. To do this, it first has to die to being a caterpillar and submit to the transformation. We must do the same. The experiences we go through in the Sanctuary Courtyard are our spiritual chrysalis phase. We undergo a change. We are not to go back to being the selfishly motivated creatures we were before.
While the courtyard shows us the steps of Justification, the Holy Place of the Tabernacle, shows us the process of Sanctification. Sanctification is being set apart for holy use. In the Holy Place, we experience new life as a new Creature, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
This new life is compared in our analogy to becoming a butterfly.
The butterfly can fly. In our analogy, the butterfly’s ability to fly is likened to the ability to gain victory over temptation and sin. Many Christians say that we cannot get the victory over sin, but the Bible tells us in Jude 1:24, that Yahshua is able to keep us from falling. Worms cannot fly. But, a butterfly can. The transformation in us is the indwelling power and Presence of Yahweh. And HE CAN fly (or overcome sin). Our victorious-through-Christ-flight is a demonstration of faith and works.
The items of furniture in this room of the Sanctuary help us continue as spiritual butterflies. The Table of Shewbread represents the spiritual nourishJohn 13:15ment we gain from eating the Bread of the Word each day. (Read Lamentations 3:22-24, and 2Timothy 2:15).
Next we come to the Menorah. This seven-branched candlestick was the source of Light in the Sanctuary. When the abiding Presence of YAH fills us, we become lights shining forth His Truth. In this way we are witnesses to Yahweh’s glory. (Read Matthew 5:16 and John 13:15).
It is also interesting to note that there are three elements need for any organism to have physical life: it must breathe, it must be nourished, and it must reproduce. Spiritually, we must do the same to be alive in the Messiah. We take in nourishment, through the Word of YAH. We reproduce, spiritually, by being His lights set on a hill, and we breathe, the most fundamental life-element of all, by praying, which brings us to our next article of furniture.
The Altar of Incense represents our prayers. We are to be always in a state of prayer. For just as we cannot go more than a few minutes without breathing, so we cannot spiritually thrive without prayer. (Read Ephesians 6:18 and James 5:16).
The last item of furniture is the Ark of the Covenant – in the Most Holy Place. This room represents the spiritual experience of Glorification. And the Ark is a symbol of the Throne of Yahweh. By being partakers of Yahweh’s Divine Covenant, we will be partakers of His Divine Nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (Read Genesis 17:7 and 2 Thessalonians 1:12).
Thus, in a very real way, the purpose of Sukkot is prepare each of us to become the living Sanctuary of the Most High God. Instead of the old wormish ways, we are changed into His loveliness. And instead of being dead in victory-less hypocrisy, we take wing as changed Creatures by His power. This new life is changed by continually breathing – praying, taking in His nourishing Word, and sharing His lovely light with all around us. This is how we are to prepare to meet our God.