Title: The Feast of Tabernacles
Text: Leviticus 23:33-44
Subject: The Feast of Tabernacles
Our text will be Leviticus
In the Old Testament the
Lord ordained seven great feasts by which he required the children of Israel to
Feast of Passover
Feast of Unleavened Bread
Feast of Firstfruits
Feast of Pentecost
Feast of Trumpets
Feast of Atonement
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
(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
These verses do not give us
a full description of the Feast of Tabernacles.
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).
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
Look at verse 39.
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.
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.
Time of the Feast
Purpose of the Feast
Significance of the Booths
Addition of Men
Sacrifices of the Feast
Servant of God
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;
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."
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."
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).
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."
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.
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."
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."
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."
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.
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) "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.
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."
good tree” provided boughs of fruit for the occasion.
of palm trees,” symbols of victory and joy, were used for the booths.
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.
“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.
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…
the bough of every good tree, feeds us continually.
the palm tree, is lofty and triumphs over all obstacles.
the pine, is strong and fragrant.
the myrtle, reaches down to the lowest and is thick, immense, indescribably
the olive tree, is rich and full.
like the willow by the brook, bends over us and protects us continually,
refreshing our souls in the heat of the day.
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
Did you notice as we read
our text that the Feast of Tabernacles involved the observance of two sabbaths
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).
Sabbath-rest of Faith in Christ—The First Day.
Sabbath-rest of Eternal Glory—The Eighth Day.
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."
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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."
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."
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!”
The Servant of God
Now, look at 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.
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,
 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