Sermon #551                                                  Leviticus Sermons


     Title:       The Feast of Tabernacles

     Text:       Leviticus 23:33-44

     Subject:  The Feast of Tabernacles



Our text will be Leviticus 23:33-44.


In the Old Testament the Lord ordained seven great feasts by which he required the children of Israel to worship him.

1.     The Feast of Passover

2.     The Feast of Unleavened Bread

3.     The Feast of Firstfruits

4.     The Feast of Pentecost

5.     The Feast of Trumpets

6.     The Feast of Atonement

7.     The Feast of Tabernacles


These feasts, called “holy convocations,” were solemn assemblies of worship. Each feast was highly symbolic, portraying specific aspects of redemption. But three of these feasts stand out from the others. For the feasts of Passover (Unleavened Bread), Pentecost, and Tabernacles, God required every man in Israel to go up to Jerusalem to keep them (De. 16:13-15). There is a reason for that. These three feasts specifically portrayed three great aspects of redemption and grace that cannot be separated.


·        The Feast of Passover, of course, portrayed our redemption by the sacrifice of Christ, our Passover.

·        The Feast of Pentecost was typical of the ingathering of God’s elect, the harvest of redeemed souls, by the effectual, irresistible work of God the Holy Spirit. All for whom the Passover was sacrificed, all for whom Christ died at Calvary, shall be called to life and faith in Christ by omnipotent grace.

·        The Feast of Tabernacles typified the consummation of redemption in resurrection glory, the gathering of all the redeemed into heaven in the resurrection, at the second coming of Christ. When the Lord God has finished his work, when all his purpose of grace has been accomplished (And it shall be accomplished!), every chosen sinner shall be with him in glory. Every sinner for whom Christ obtained eternal redemption, every ransomed soul, called by God the Holy Spirit, shall be brought into the eternal, heavenly bliss of resurrection glory.


(Leviticus 23:33-36)  "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (34) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. (35) On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. (36) Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein."


These verses do not give us a full description of the Feast of Tabernacles[1]. Rather, they simply show us its place among the other feasts of the Lord in the Old Testament. This was the last feast, the feast by which the year was brought to its final conclusion. It speaks of that time John describes in Revelation 10. When the Lord Jesus, the mighty Angel of the Covenant shall have fulfilled all the purpose of God, when he shall have fulfilled everything written in the book of divine predestination, he shall come again, make all things new, lift his hand to heaven, and declare, “Time shall be no more. The mystery of God is finished” (Rev. 10:1-7).


(Leviticus 23:37-38)  "These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: (38) Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD."


These two verses announce the conclusion of instructions about the solemn feasts of divine worship and service. But the conclusion is announced before any further instruction is given about the Feast of Tabernacles. The feast is announced in verses 33-36. Then, Moses gave a summarization of all “the feasts of the Lord.” Then, he returned to the subject of the Feast of Tabernacles and gave more detailed instructions about how it was to be observed.


I cannot help asking myself, “Why? Why did Moses appear to interrupt himself?” It was not that he was writing out the Word of God that he suddenly realized that had forgotten to mention a few things. Not at all! The arrangement of the passage is by divine purpose. By writing as he does, the Holy Spirit here calls special attention to that feast which represents the most joyful prospect of heavenly, everlasting bliss in that day called “the times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).


Look at verse 39.


(Leviticus 23:39)  "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 the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath."


The word “Also” should be translated “Surely.” It is the same word used in Psalm 73:1, where David says, “Truly (Surely) God is good to Israel!” It is a word used to express strong conviction, firm persuasion, or absolute certainty. Having announced all the feasts of the Lord and the Feast of Tabernacles, Moses now says, “Surely, most certainly, you shall keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”


Now, let’s read the instructions he gives us about this great feast, and seek the message God the Holy Spirit has for us in verses 39-44.


(Leviticus 23:39-44)  "Also (Surely) in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. (40) 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 the LORD your God seven days. (41) And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. (42) Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: (43) 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 the LORD your God. And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD."


Divisions: Let me call your attention to seven things about this Feast of Tabernacles.

1.     The Time of the Feast

2.     The Purpose of the Feast

3.     The Significance of the Booths

4.     The Addition of Men

5.     The Sacrifices of the Feast

6.     The Solemn Closure

7.     The Servant of God


I.      The time of the feast


The Feast of Tabernacles was to be observed on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, at the time of full harvest, when all the fruit of the land was gathered and the grapes were in the wine press. It was held at this season of the year because it typified the full harvest of the earth in the resurrection, when the Lord Jesus Christ comes again and gathers his elect up to glory in the resurrection.


This is not a matter of speculation. The passage we read earlier (Zechariah 14:1-21) shows us plainly that this is the typical meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles.


This was the rainy season in Israel. Had the feast been held in the Spring, it would not be an unexpected thing to see people camping out in booths. But during the rainy season, it was not an expected sight to those who were not Jews. So it shall be when our Lord returns. He shall come again at an hour when he is not expected.


No one knows the day or hour of Christ’s second advent. No one even knows the approximate time of our Redeemer’s appearance. Learn this fact and learn it well. No one knows when the Lord Jesus is coming again. The language of Scripture in this regard is crystal clear (Mk. 13:32; Acts 1:4-11).


(Mark 13:32)  "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."


(Acts 1:4-11)  "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (5) For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (6) When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (7) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (9) And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. (10) And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; (11) Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."


No one knows, or even has a hint of an idea, when the Lord Jesus will come again to this world. Not only do the Scriptures tell us this emphatically, we have a glaring proof of the fact in Mark 13:32. If the perfect, holy man Christ Jesus, that man who knew the Book of God like no other man, did not know it, if he did not figure out the day or hour of his appearing, you are not about to do so!


No one knows when Christ is coming to take him out of this world, to meet God in judgment. I find it utterly amazing that we so blatantly ignore this fact. David said, “There is but a step between me and death.” We all say we realize that; but very few people seem to live like they realize it. There is but a step between you and death. O my soul, hear the Word of God and learn - “There is but a step between me and death!” God has, from eternity, fixed the moment and the means by which he will take you out of this world. As soon as God takes you out of this world, you are going to stand before him in judgment. I know, there is a day of judgment at the end of time. Following the general resurrection, there will be a general judgment (John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:11-15). But you will meet God in judgment as soon as you draw your last breath (2 Cor. 5:10-11; Heb. 9:27). How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”


II.   The Purpose of the Feast


God’s purpose in establishing the Feast of Tabernacles was to remind Israel of their time in the wilderness, when they dwelt in tents (booths), as pilgrims, and the Lord God dwelt in their midst in the pillar of cloud. For this purpose, the Lord required them to dwell in booths for seven days during the feast (vv. 42-43). In keeping the feast, the Lord would have his people remember continually that as they journeyed through the wilderness, he spread his covering over them and journeyed with them every step of the way.


But there is more, much more. The Feast of Tabernacles typically spoke of another, better, more glorious day for the Israel of God. It typified that blessed, endless day of eternal glory, when our God has made all things new, and tabernacles with men forever, that day when the Lamb shall lead us to living fountains of water (Rev. 21:1-7; 22:1-7; 7:15-17).


·        The beginning of the new creation was the incarnation of Christ and the accomplishment of redemption by him (John 1:14; Heb. 9:6-12).


(John 1:14)  "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."


(Hebrews 9:6-12)  "Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. (7) But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: (8) The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: (9) Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; (10) Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. (11) But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; (12) Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."


·        Still, the full accomplishment of the type will take place when our Lord Jesus comes again in his glory.


(Revelation 21:1-7)  "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (2) And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (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. (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (6) And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (7) He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."


(Revelation 22:1-7)  "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (4) And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (5) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (6) And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. (7) Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book."


(Revelation 7:15-17)  "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (16) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. (17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."


A Time of Great Joy


This feast was a celebration of God’s goodness. It was kept with joyful remembrance of his wondrous works, and observed in hope of eternal life and resurrection glory. Believers in those days were as fully convinced as we are of Christ’s second coming, the fact that our God shall make all things new, and that we shall be raised from the dead. Enoch spoke of these things, as did Isaiah, Zechariah, and the other prophets.


III.           The Significance of the Booths


The booths they made displayed a picture of the new creation, when the earth shall be covered with rich, luxurious vegetation, where men and women shall forever live in righteousness and peace, sending up songs of praise to God continually (Neh. 8:14-18).


(Nehemiah 8:14-18)  "And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: (15) And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. (16) So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. (17) And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness. (18) Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner."


Try to get a picture of this celebration and the booths the people made, in which they dwelled during the seven days of the feast. Putting this passage in Nehemiah together with our text, we see a picture of the new creation, when God’s creation is restored to him and restored by him fully.


(Leviticus 23:40)  "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 the LORD your God seven days."


·        Every good tree” provided boughs of fruit for the occasion.

·        Branches of palm trees,” symbols of victory and joy, were used for the booths.

·        The boughs of thick trees,” that is to say, “bushy” trees, like the myrtle tree spoken of by Nehemiah, were used. They took the high, lofty palm branches and the lower thickets for their booths.

·        Then “the willows of the brook” were used. Those willows that grow by the streams, with their thick, hangings under which men find refuge from the heat of the sun were employed in making these booths.

·        Nehemiah tells us they also used “the olive and the pine.The olive tree provided them with both fruit and oil, symbolizing the Spirit of God. The pine provided them with the strong, massive beams needed to hold their booths together and pleasant fragrance, portraying the Lord Jesus.


They dwelt in these booths for seven days, rejoicing before the Lord. So we shall dwell with our God forever in resurrection glory, possessing all the earth, rejoicing before him.


Still, there is more. These booths, being made of these trees portray the matchless love of the God of Jeshurun, in which we have dwelt from eternity, in which we dwell now, and in which we shall forever dwell (Deut. 33:26-29). The love of God…

·        Like the bough of every good tree, feeds us continually.

·        Like the palm tree, is lofty and triumphs over all obstacles.

·        Like the pine, is strong and fragrant.

·        Like the myrtle, reaches down to the lowest and is thick, immense, indescribably full.

·        Like the olive tree, is rich and full.

·        And, like the willow by the brook, bends over us and protects us continually, refreshing our souls in the heat of the day.


(Deuteronomy 33:26-29)  "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. (27) The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. (28) Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. (29) Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places."


Two Sabbaths


Did you notice as we read our text that the Feast of Tabernacles involved the observance of two sabbaths (v. 39)?


(Leviticus 23:39)  "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 the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath."


I cannot pass over this. Eternal life involves two great sabbaths (Heb. 4:3-11).

·        The Sabbath-rest of Faith in Christ—The First Day.

·        The Sabbath-rest of Eternal Glory—The Eighth Day.


(Hebrews 4:3-11)  "For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (4) For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. (5) And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. (6) Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: (7) Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (8) For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. (9) There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (10) For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. (11) Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."


IV.            The Addition of Men


The Jews added another element to the Feast of Tabernacles. They presumed to add to God’s ordinance their own superstitious religious invention. They were not satisfied with God’s ordinances and thought they would improve it by their own devices. They added the ceremony of drawing water out of the pool of Siloam, to which they attached magical healing powers (John 9). Of course, they claimed that it represented the water that flowed from the smitten Rock. They would draw up their magic water and pour it out in the temple. As they did, they sang and rejoiced, as if the angel of the Lord had come down among them.


But look at verse 44 and notice something. In verse 44, this feast and the others are called, “the feasts of the Lord.” Compare that with John 7:2.


(John 7:2)  "Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand."


The feast of the Lord” was, by their idolatrous invention, turned into “the Jews’ feast of tabernacles!” What a commentary that is on all the additions of men to the worship of God!


Instead of worshipping God, they were will worshipers. Instead of looking to Christ and trusting him of whom the feast spoke, they worshipped water drawn from a pond! Instead of finding satisfaction for their souls in keeping the feast, they went away as dry and thirsty as they came. That makes the words of our Lord in John 7:37-38 all the more striking.


(John 7:37-38)  "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (38) He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."


V.   The Sacrifices of the Feast


We will not read it now, because the passage is lengthy, but in Numbers 29:12-40 the sacrifices of this feast are described. There were many, many sacrifices made throughout the week of the feast. But each day the number of sacrifices diminished. The sacrifices, of course, all pointed to Christ, the Lamb of God, who is our sin-atoning sacrifice. The fact that those sacrifices diminished every day is more than interesting. They were, like the whole of divine revelation in Holy Scripture focusing more and more clearly upon the fact that there is but one sacrifice for sin; and that sacrifice is Christ. Truly Christ is All and all we need!


VI.            The Solemn Closure


In verse 36 the closing of the Feast of Tabernacles is called “a solemn assembly.


(Leviticus 23:36)  "Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein."


But the words “solemn assembly” are a very poor translation. The marginal reading is “solemn restraint.” That comes close, but still misses the mark. A better translation would be “a solemn shutting up,” or “a solemn closure.” The Feast of Tabernacles portrayed God’s solemn closure of all things. When Christ comes again, raises the dead, and makes all things new, when at last he brings us into that state of glory wherein the tabernacle of God is forever with men, when we dwell with him in a new heavens and a new earth, that will be God’s solemn closure.


(Psalms 96:9-13)  "O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. (10) Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. (11) Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. (12) Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice (13) Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth."


(Isaiah 25:6-9)  "And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. (7) And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. (8) He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. (9) And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."


(Isaiah 35:1-2)  "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (2) It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God."


Then, we will say what Peter did on the Mount of Transfiguration, “Master, It is good for us to be here!


VII.        The Servant of God


Now, look at Leviticus 23:44.


(Leviticus 23:44)  "And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD."


Here is a picture of God’s servant. The Lord God testifies of his servant Moses that he was faithful. He faithfully declared all that God told him to declare. He faithfully and implicitly obeyed the revealed will of God. May God give each of us grace to do the same, following his example, following the Lord fully, for Christ’s sake.


(2 Peter 3:9-14)  "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (10) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (11) Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (12) Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (13) Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (14) Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."


[1] For a more detailed description of the Feast of Tabernacles see Exodus 23:16-17, Numbers 29:13-39, and Deuteronomy 16:13-15.

1       Date:               Danville (AM 02/16/03)

                                Lincoln Wood Baptist Church, Houston, TX (Saturday PM 03/29/03)

        Tape #            X-46a

        Reading:        Zechariah 14:1-21