Posts Tagged ‘sukkot’

In the Days of Nehemiah

“It was the first day of the seventh month” (Nehemiah 8:2).

After our family began celebrating the ‘appointed times’ found in the Leviticus 23, days, times and seasonal cycles stood out on the pages of the Scriptures.   This specific verse in Nehemiah is no different.  It sets the time for the events to follow as the ‘first day of the seventh month’ or Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets.  This ‘appointed time’ of God begins His season of the fall feasts which are about repentance, atonement and a vision of the coming Millennial Kingdom.

The events in Nehemiah 8 are not some random occurrences in the history of Israel.  They are a testimony to the restoration of the Feasts of Elohim to a people who had lived in exile for over 160 years.  Though there was a first wave of Jewish return to Jerusalem 70 years after being taken captive, Ezra and Nehemiah were in the second wave 90 years later.  It was during this time that the priests gathered the people together on the ‘first day of the seventh month’.

Yom Teruah 445 B.C.E.

A wooden platform was made on which Ezra, the priest,  stood and could be seen and heard by all of the men and women who came to listen to the reading of the Torah.  As he opened the Torah scroll, everyone stood.  Then Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God.  As the people answered with “Amen”,  they lifted up their hands, bowed their heads and fell prostrate before Elohim with their faces to the ground. 

“Amen” has a very interesting root history.  It comes from the Hebrew word aman meaning ‘to nourish, support, make sure and strong’.   The word emunah or faithfulness also has its root in aman.   The Jewish sages say that amen is an acronym for el melek ne’eman or “God is a faithful King’.  According to Revelation 3:14, Yeshua is the “the amen, the faithful and true witness … he is the faithful King.”   What the people said  as they were about to hear the Torah was “God is a faithful King!”

Days of Awe and Repentance

The Levites had the responsibility to explain Torah to the people.  After being in a foreign country for several generations, they needed to translate the Hebrew so that the ‘Persian’ Jews would  understand the words being read.  When they heard the  instructions that God gave them through Moshe, the people began to weep. 

Repentance or ‘turning back to God’ or teshuvah  is central to the fall ‘appointed times.’   After hearing the words of Torah for the first time standing in Jerusalem, the people wept.  They grieved.  They understood they had lost the very essence of their national heritage from the LORD and had not lived accordingly.

Ezra, along with the rest of the Levites, told them not to weep, not to be sad for this day was ‘set apart to Elohim their God.’  It was an ‘appointed time’ of the LORD.  They were told to go out, eat rich food, drink sweet drinks and give portions to those who couldn’t provide for themselves.  Even today sweet foods are eaten on Feast of Trumpets with apples and honey being the traditional foods.

How sweet to my tongue is your promise, truly sweeter than honey in my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Mouth of God

Yeshua said in Matthew 4:4 “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.”  What does the mouth or ‘voice of God’ sound like?

Ram's Horn ShofarWhen John was exiled on the island of Patmos, he has a revelation of Messiah.  He says,  “I came to be, in the Spirit, on the Day of the LORD; and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a shofar ….”   The voice of the LORD sounded like the blowing of a shofar.   A shofar, or the horn from a ram, is blown on the Feast of Trumpets.  Obviously, it is only when breath goes through the shofar that it is able to create a sound.  Being vessels of Elohim’s Spirit, it is taught that the ‘breath of God’ or Ruach HaKodesh blows through a shofar when it sounds.  

(Note: John heard the voice that sounded like a shofar on the Day of the LORD.  This is in reference to the events surrounding the coming Millennial Kingdom and a time of judgment, not the first day of the week.  The events for the Day of the LORD will begin on ‘the first day of the seventh month’ or Yom Teruah.)

The Spring of Living Water
Pool of SiloamThe original city of Jerusalem had very different boundaries than modern-day Jerusalem.  In fact, remnants of the city are found in what is known as the City of David.  Within the ‘older’ city of Jerusalem, the Water Gate led down to the Gihon Spring which was located in the Kidron Valley.  This spring was the main source of water for the Pool of Siloam.   The priests would go to the Pool of Siloam to collect the water for each day’s water libation ceremony.  During this event, they would pour water over the altar in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles.   On the last and greatest day of this feast, Yeshua stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking! Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!” (John 7:37-39).

As the people gathered at the Water Gate, it is symbolic of the pathway to the living water of the Word of God.  With the reading of the Torah by Ezra, the Jewish people had been ‘washed in the water of the Word’ and began preparing themselves as a pure and holy bride (Ephesians 5:25-26).   

Building Sukkot

On the second day,  the heads of the clans of the people joined the Levites and Ezra to study the words of the Torah again.  They found that Elohim had ordered through Moshe that the people of Isra’el were to live in booths or sukkot during the ‘appointed time’ in the seventh month known as the Feast of Tabernacles.  They were to announce the festival of Sukkot in all of their cities and in Jerusalem.  

“Go out to the mountains, and collect branches of olives, wild olives, myrtles, palms, and other leafy trees to make sukkot, as prescribed” (Nehemiah 8:15).

Olive TreeIn Jeremiah 11:16, God calls Isra’el an olive tree. In Romans 11,  Sha’ul speaks about branches of olives and wild olives that make up the Olive Tree of Isra’el.    The natural branches represent the 12 Tribes of Israel  and the wild branches the nations that join with them.  Both receive the same living water of the Word through the same spiritual root.   Though both branches will continue to produce either natural olives or wild olives, they both produce olives.

“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). 

Middle Eastern MyrtleMyrtle trees are considered an evergreen and are very hardy.   They produce a purplish-black berry called the mursins.  This fruit can be dried then ground and used as a flavoring.  It is one of the four leafy trees bound together for Sukkot that over time have been given the symbolism of ‘good smell, but no taste,’ like a person who has ‘good deeds, but does not study the Torah.’

The prophet Zechariah lived during the time between the first and second returning remnants.  He has a vision of God, angels and horsemen standing in the midst of a myrtle tree.  This vision was given to reinforce God’s promise that the exiles who returned to Jerusalem would be prosperous.  For the Jewish people of Zechariah’s time to prosper, they would need to repent and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, rebuild the Temple and learn Torah.  In the time of Nehemiah 8 and Yom Teruah, the repentance had begun. 

“Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the LORD  Almighty” (Zechariah 1:16).

Palm TreePalms, or lulav in Hebrew,  were also part of the branches collected to make a sukkah.  It is known for its uprightness, fruit and its beauty.  The Jewish sages say that the palm tree, which has taste but no smell, can be compared to a person who studies Torah, but has no fruit of good works. 

The first mention of palm trees in Scripture is when the Israelites camp at the oasis of Elim during their trek in the wilderness.  It is during the Feast  of Tabernacles that palm branches are waved signifying the coming Messianic kingdom. This is why palm branches were waved when Yeshua entered Jerusalem during the Passover season.  The people believed that the kingdom of God hadarrived; however, it was the wrong ‘appointed time’ and season.    In Revelation 7:9, multitudes from every tribe and nation will be waving palm branches and giving glory to the King of Kings.  Today, the lulav is a special binding of three species of branches along with an etrog (a type of citrus fruit).  It is used to worship the LORD during Sukkot and reminds everyone that one day the nations of the world will gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16). 

images-1

The people went out from the city, collected branches from specific trees and made sukkot for themselves on the roofs of their homes, in their courtyards, in the Temple courts and in the open spaces by the Water Gate and the Efrayim Gate. The entire community of those who had returned from the exile made sukkot and lived in them for the commanded time of eight days.   They had not done this since the days of Joshua and they celebrated Sukkot with great joy.  They also read the Torah every day from the first day until the last day of the ‘appointed time.’

In Our Day

The Feast of  Trumpets begins on the first day of the seventh month and Sukkot begins on the fourteenth day. On our Gregorian calendar, these fall festivals occur in our months of September/October.   They are a vision of the coming Kingdom of God when Isra’el, the natural branches of the Olive Tree will gather in Jerusalem along with the nations, the wild branches of the Olive Tree, to worship the King of Kings.  Everyone will wave olive, palm and myrtle branches for they will not just study Torah, they will bear the righteous fruit of the etrog.

The Jews in the days of Nehemiah prepared for this coming Kingdom by repenting and returning to the Torah of God and celebrated the ‘appointed times’ on their commanded days.  As wild olives, we can also embrace the vision of the coming Kingdom millennia later in the say way: repenting and turning back to God, learning Torah,  and proclaiming the ‘appointed times’ to those who stand by the Water Gate desiring spiritual nourishment from the spring of living water.  Amen. “Yeshua is the faithful King.”  

©2016 Tentstake Ministries

The Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot

“The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.  The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work.  For seven days present food offerings to the LORD, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the LORD. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work” (Leviticus 23:33-36). 

The Feast of Tabernacles is the last of the seven ‘’appointed time’s’ given to God’s people.  In Hebrew, the Feast of Tabernacles is sukkot meaning ‘shelters or booths.’ Sukkot is the eight-day fall festival of ingathering that follows the solemn days of awe and the Day of Atonement.  It is known as the ‘season of our joy’ when everyone dances with lulavs and builds temporary shelters with roofs made from branches of trees.  Like the other fall festivals, the Feast of Tabernacles has yet to be fulfilled by Messiah.  Its shadow contains the vision of the coming Millennial Kingdom when Yeshua will once again tabernacle with Israel and the nations in Jerusalem.   The culmination of the Feast of Tabernacles will occur in eternity when there is a new heavens, new earth and the New Jerusalem where Yahweh will sit on His throne and dwell with His people.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Booth or Sukkah, the singular of sukkotסכה

Samech ס – A Prop means ‘to support and protect’

Kaf כ – An Open Palm means ‘to allow, to open’

Hey ה – A Window means ‘to reveal’

The Hebrew word picture for sukkah: A protection allowing revelation.

Abraham’s Faith

Abraham’s Tent

“By faith he [Abraham] made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country;  he lived in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with permanent foundations, of which the architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).

Abraham was called a friend of God because he believed God and had faith in God’s promises to make him a great nation through a promised seed.  Though he had to live in a tent in this world, he had the hope of an eternal city built by God, the New Jerusalem.

Jacob’s Sukkah

Jacob at Succot

“Jacob went on to Sukkoth, where he built himself a house and put up shelters for his animals.  This is why the place is called Sukkoth (shelters)” (Genesis 33:17).

When the Israelites left Egypt, their first stop on their way to Mount Sinai was Takut, the Egyptian name for Sukkoth.   Hundreds of years earlier, Jacob, whose name had been changed to Israel,  stopped at this exact place after he reunited with his brother Esau.  He built ‘temporary dwellings’ for his family and livestock and called it Sukkoth.

Sukkot

“You are to live in sukkot for seven days … so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the children of Israel live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 23:42).

In the LORD’s command for the Feast of Tabernacles, the Israelites  were to live in sukkot as a reminder of the 40 years they traveled in the wilderness and lived in temporary shelters. Throughout their generations, the nation of Israel (specifically the Jewish people) have built  sukkot no matter where they have lived.

Sukkah

A sukkah can be built in a yard or on a porch or balcony.  It generally has three walls with all or part of its roof open to the sky.  Any roof covering is usually branches from trees.  Lights may be hung in the    sukkah along with interior decorations such as pictures, flowers, leaves or fruit. Some families line the interior walls with white in order to remember the ‘clouds of Glory’ that appeared over like a sukkah them as they traveled  in the desert.  For seven days the sukkah, the personal or family dwelling place, is used for eating, sleeping and inviting special guests for the season of joy. 

 

The Lulav

“On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year” (Leviticus 23:40-42). 

Rejoicing with the Lulav

On the first day of Sukkot, branches from palms, willows and myrtles along with a large fragrant citrus fruit called the etrog are bound together in what is called the lulav or the Four Species representing the nations of the world.   On each day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the lulav is waved facing north, south, east and west while proclaiming the coming Kingdom of God to the nations.

Several other symbolic meanings developed from the four species creating the lulav. Some believe the four species represent the memorial name of God: Yod Hey Vav Hey which is why they species are bound together as one.   Others believe the fruit and the aroma of the trees relate to different people and how they respond to God’s Torah very similar to the Parable of the Sower and how different people’s hearts respond to the Word of God.  Still others believe that the branches and the fruit represent the parts of our bodies, our temporary dwellings, that we are to offer to God as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13).   

The Tabernacle

“On the first day of the first month of the second year, the tabernacle was set up” (Exodus 40:17).  The Hebrew word for ‘tabernacle’ is mishkan and this is what the Tabernacle or ‘tent of meeting’ was called in the wilderness.    

Hebrew Word Pictures

Tabernacle or Mishkan – משכן

Mem מ Water means ‘to come down from, immense’

Shin ש – A Tooth means ‘consumed’ or Shekinah, ‘the Divine Presence of God’

Kaf  כ – A Palm or Wing means ‘to cover or allow’

Nun נ – A Fish means ‘ action and life’

The Hebrew word picture for mishkan: The immense consuming [divine presence of God] cover life.

After the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they ended up at Mount Sinai where Moses received God’s instructions for constructing His portable ‘dwelling place’, the mishkan. It took a long time for all of its posts, curtains, and holy articles to be made.  Gold, silver and bronze objects that were taken from Egypt had to be melted down or beaten and formed into shapes.  Acacia wood had to be gathered, cut and built into boxes.  Animals had to be slaughtered for their skins.   Fabric had to be spun from flax and wool.

Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Eventually the articles became a the Altar of Sacrifice, a hammered golden Menorah, an Altar of Incense, a Table of Presence and the Ark of the Testimony.  Mirrors were collected from the women to cover the large basin for priestly washing and purification.  Tabernacle coverings were stitched together and mounted on the posts.   Curtains from finely twisted linen with blue, purple and scarlet yarn were hung in the Holy Place.  By the time of their two-year anniversary of leaving Egypt, the Mishkan was set up and the glory of the LORD filled it with a cloud.  Yahweh had His ‘temporary dwelling’ that could be transported when He moved His people. 

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud remained on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel continued with all their travels.  But if the cloud was not taken up, they did not travel onward until the day with it was taken up.  For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle during the day, and the fire was (in the cloud) at night, so that all the house of Israel could see it throughout all their travels” (Exodus 40:34-38).

The Living Tabernacle

Sukkah for Yeshua’s Birth

Yeshua is the living tabernacle of God’s divine presence on earth.   According to the details given in the first two chapters of Luke, it can be determined that Yeshua was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles.  In a ‘temporary dwelling’ outside the town of Bethlehem, the Word became flesh and was placed in a sukkah.  His heavenly Father, the angels in heaven, the shepherds watching their flocks, his mother Miriam and his earthly father celebrated in the birth of the Son of God.  While all Israel commemorated the festival of ingathering, Yeshua became the reason for the season of great joy!

“The Word became flesh and tabernacled with us, we saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth … for it pleased God to have his full being live in His Son…” (John 1:14, Colossians 1:19).

Yeshua celebrates Feast of Tabernacles in John chapter 7, though he didn’t go to Jerusalem until the festival was half over.   When he arrived and began to teach in the Temple, the people were astonished and wondered how he knew so much.  He gave credit to his Father who had sent him to find the lost sheep of Israel and told them to search the Scriptures to know if his teachings were from God or himself.

“So Yeshua gave them an answer: ‘My teaching is not my own, it comes from the one who sent me.  If anyone wants to do his will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or I speak on my own.  A person who speaks on his own is trying to win praise for himself; but a person who tries to win praise for the one who sent him is honest, there is nothing false about him” (John 7:16-18). 

Streams of Living Water

Pool of Siloam

The Levitical priesthood officiated the sacrifices in the Temple during the Feasts and led other traditions rooted in celebrating  the ‘’appointed time’s.’   The highlight each day of the Feast of Tabernacles was the Water Pouring Ceremony.  A white-robed priest would lead a joyful procession carrying a golden pitcher.   The people would follow him through the Water Gate to the Pool of Siloam where he filled the pitcher with water.  He  would return to the Temple with the filled pitcher with the worshippers following him singing, waving their lulavs and dancing in the streets.  When the priest arrived at the Altar, he would pour out the water.  As he poured the water from the golden pitcher, he would cry out in a loud voice words from the prophet Isaiah, “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).

The multitude of people who gathered in Jerusalem for this festival  would respond with “LORD, save us!  LORD, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.  From the house of the LORD we bless you” (Psalm 118).

The last and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles was called Hoshana Rabbah and means ‘The Great Salvation.‘ It was the culmination of the week-long celebration of the Feast and was a vision of the restoration of God’s eternal Kingdom when He would Tabernacle with mankind forever.

Living Water

It was on this day of the Great Salvation that Yeshua responds to his nation’s cry for salvation.  As the Great Salvation, he delivered a message not of judgment, but of freedom and fullness of life in the Spirit.  If they would come to him and put their faith in him, the Spirit of God would be poured out into their hearts and their spiritual thirst would be quenched.  Living waters would flow from within them and they would receive their Great Salvation.

“Now on the last day and greatest day of the festival, Hoshana Rabbah, Yeshua stood and cried out, ‘If a man is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drink!  Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being.’”  (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who trusted in him were to receive later.  The Spirit had not yet been given, because Yeshua had not yet been glorified”) (John 7:37-39).

Our Earthly Sukkah

“I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Messiah Yeshua has made clear to me” (2 Peter 1:13).

While we live on the earth, we have an earth suit.   Peter and Paul called it our earthly tent.   Our earthly tent is mortal, decaying and dying.  It is only a temporary physical dwelling for our spirits and will one day be destroyed through death.  We will return to the dust of the ground from where we came.   While we live in our mortal sukkot, we know that we are naked and unclothed in the eyes of God.   We cry out in our temporary sufferings and affliction while we wait for the redemption of our bodies and receive our immortal clothes. 

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).

Once we are born again into God’s Kingdom, our earth tents become the dwelling place for God’s Spirit.  He seals us with His Spirit as a guarantee  that we will be released from our mortal tents and given heavenly bodies.   When we receive our glorified bodies, they will never decay or die because they are eternal.  Until that day arrives, we live in our bodies by faith just as our father Abraham who looked forward to what is to come.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 16:19-20).

Feast of Ingathering

“Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field” (Exodus 23:16).

The Feast of Tabernacles is also called the Feast of Ingathering.  It is celebrated after the harvest of grain and grapes while the olive harvest is still in process. 

This ‘’appointed time’’ foreshadows when the House of Judah and the House of Israel are gathered from the nations back to the Promised Land.   This ingathering of God’s chosen people will be so divinely inspired that it will be celebrated as a ‘greater exodus’ than when the Israelites left Egypt.   The Ingathering has only just begun with a modern-day movement of Jewish people returning to Israel from all the nations of the world.  It is called aliyah and means ‘going up.’   

“‘Therefore,’ says The LORD, ‘the day will come when people will not longer swear, “As The LORD lives, who brought the nation of Israel out of the land of Egypt,” but, ‘As The LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel out of the land to the north and all the countries where he drove them,’ for I will bring them back to their own land which I gave their ancestors’” (Jeremiah 16:14-15).

“They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month  and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”—as it is written” (Nehemiah 8:14-15).

When Israel returned from captivity in the days of Nehemiah, they found the book of Torah that commanded collecting branches to make their sukkot.  In addition to branches from palms, willows, and myrtles, they also collected branches from olive and wild olive trees (Nehemiah 8:14-15).  Because the Feast of Ingathering is a shadow of the coming Kingdom of God, the  olive and wild olive tree branches are significant to its fulfillment.

The first mention of the olive tree is in Genesis after the flood when Noah sends out a dove and it brings back a leaf, a symbol of new life.   In Exodus Moses is given pure olive oil as one of the ingredients for the anointing oil, a symbol of the Spirit.   In Deuteronomy, the land flowing with milk and honey also flowed with olive oil indicating the abundance of provision in the Promised Land.  The doors of Solomon’s Temple were made from olive wood on which were carved the cherubim that guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden (1 Kings 6:32). In the Psalms, children are like olive shoots around a blessed man’s table. Jeremiah and Hosea call Israel ‘a thriving olive tree with great splendor.’

When Paul discusses the olive tree in Romans 11,  he sees natural olive branches and wild olive branches attached to the same tree.   He tells the gentiles, those of the nations, that they are the wild olive branches which have been grafted into the olive tree along with the natural branches of Israel.

When a branch is grafted into a tree, it gets its nourishment from the roots and sap of the tree.  It will still bear fruit, wild olives, but only through its dependence on the natural tree.   If the grafting doesn’t take and the branch doesn’t get its nourishment,  it will die and fall off the tree.

Paul reminds the gentiles that as wild olive branches they can be cut off the olive tree if they become arrogant over the natural branches.    They are to remember that the living water of the Spirit that comes from Messiah, the root of David,  and the nourishing sap of the  Hebrew Scriptures supports them both by faith.    Though some of the natural branches may have been broken off due to a lack of faith, they are easily grafted back into their own olive tree  (Romans 11:13-24).    

The addition of olive and wild olive branches to the sukkah in Nehemiah’s time suggests that the Ingathering will not only include the natural olive branches of Israel,  but also the wild olive branches  of nations who have joined the covenant that God made with Israel.  When both branches of olives live by faith in Yeshua trusting in him as the root of the tree, living water will bring nourishing sap to both branches.  They will finally thrive with splendor as God intended for  the Olive Tree of Israel.

The Millennial Kingdom

“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. …Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken” (Micah 4:1, 3).

Ezekiel’s Millennial Temple

Yeshua’s teachings centered around the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.  Though it was near, it had not yet fully arrived and will not arrive until he had been glorified and crowned King.  During a one thousand year ‘season of our joy,’  the nations of the world will come to the mountain of the LORD in Jerusalem.  Yeshua will sit on his throne in the Temple and rule the nations from Israel.  His reign will join the present world and mortal men with immortal men in a unique time in history.  With an iron scepter, he will rule the earth and prepare its people for his Father’s eternal kingdom.

“After six days Yeshua took Peter, James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain privately.  As they watched, he began to change form – his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became as white as light.  Then they looked and saw Moses and Elijah speaking with him.   Peter said to Yeshua, ‘It’s good that we’re here, Lord.  I’ll put up three sukkot [temporary dwellings]  if you want – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them; and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him’! (Matthew 17:1-5).

Just days before, Yeshua told the disciples that some of them would not die until they saw the Son of Man coming in his kingdom (Matthew 16:28).  They were waiting for this kingdom to arrive with great expectation.  Six days later Yeshua took Peter, James and John up a mountain.

The three disciples watched as Yeshua changed into glory in front of them. They saw him speaking with Moses and Elijah establishing a witness of three to the transfiguration.  They didn’t realize that were receiving only a glimpse at the coming Kingdom, but believed that Yeshua was establishing his Kingdom rule on earth at that ‘’appointed time’.‘   They believed that Yeshua was going to take up his throne in Jerusalem and reign as King of Kings.  They weren’t being stupid as often taught,  they knew the prophecies.  Peter responded with his great faith in Yeshua’s words about the Kingdom of God when he offered to build these three glorified men, Moses, Elijah and Yeshua shelters or sukkot.

The Eternal Tabernacle

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place (the Mishkan) is now among the people, and he will dwell (tabernacle) with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3 NIV and Orthodox Jewish Bible).

The New Jerusalem Descends

At the end of Yeshua’s Millennial reign, a new heaven and a new earth will appear.  Everything from the old heaven and earth will pass away.  The New Jerusalem will come down out of the restored heavens and descend to the renewed earth.  There won’t be a Temple in the New Jerusalem because God will be the Temple.  There will be no sun or moon to shine on it because the glory of God gives it its light.  It’s lamp will be Yeshua.

The river of the water of life will flow from the throne of God producing fruit for each month and healing leaves for the nations.  The servants of God will worship Him as His throne will be in the city.   The eternally redeemed will see His face and His name will be written on their foreheads.  They will reign as kings forever and ever.  When the New Jerusalem descends from heaven, Yahweh, the Father, the Creator,  the great I AM will eternally Tabernacle with His people.

“All of these people kept on trusting until they died, without receiving what had been promised.  They had only seen it and welcomed it from a distance, while acknowledging that they were aliens and temporary residents on the earth.  …As it is, they aspire to a better homeland, a heavenly one.  This is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city”  (Hebrews 11:13-15).

Our father Abraham lived in a tent. As Abraham’s children by faith and heirs to the same promises, we also live in earth tents like he did.  Until the day of our redemption, we will live as strangers and foreigners on this earth.  We can celebrate Sukkot with the hope of our future glory by building a sukkah.  As we feast in our ‘temporary dwelling’, we can identify with the children of Israel who lived in tents with the Mishkan of Yahweh in their midst.

Yeshua took on the tent of a human body to live with us. As the Messiah of Israel, he will soon return to Jerusalem as King to prepare the nations for the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.  When we  keep our eyes on the promises of God and the New Jerusalem we will truly understand the ‘season of our joy’ and the Feast of Tabernacles.

“Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress.  Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete” (Deuteronomy 16:13-15).

©2011 Tentstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon.com

When was Jesus born?

“For to us a child is born,  to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace  there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty  will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Sukkah for Yeshua’s Birth

Most Christians acknowledge that Jesus (Yeshua) was not born on December 25 in the middle of winter.  Yet few realize that Yeshua’s birth is outlined in the Bible if they could unravel some of the clues given to them in the gospels and refer back to the Hebrew Scriptures.   The account of our ‘reason for the season’ begins in the book of Luke chapter one when Zechariah was in the Temple at Jerusalem burning incense to God.   The time of  his Temple service is the key to understanding  when of the birth of his son, John took place, as well as the birth of Yeshua. 

1.  Zechariah was a Levite priest in of the lineage of Abijah, a descendant of Aaron (Luke 1:5, Numbers 3:2).

“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron” (Luke 1:5).

2. All Levitical priests, including Zechariah, were required by God to serve in the Temple during Passover, Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles as well as two weeks extra per year according to their family lineage (Deuteronomy 16:16).

“Three times a year all your men must appear before YHVH your God at the place he will  choose:  at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost) and the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

3.  Abjiah was eighth in line for Temple duties. This means that as a descendant of Abijah,  Zechariah was eighth in line for his Temple duties (1 Chronicles 24:10).

“With the help of Zadok … David separated them [the descendants of Aaron] into divisions for their appointed order of ministering. … The first lot fell to Jehoiarib … the eighth to Abijah ….  This was their appointed order of ministering when they entered the Temple of  the LORD according to the regulations prescribed for them …” (Numbers 1:1-19).

4. Zechariah would have served during the week of Passover and Unleavened Bread  in the Temple as part of his required Temple service.

The Biblical calendar is not the same as the Julian/Gregorian calendar we use today.  Passover is our March/April, Pentecost (Shavuot) near June, Tabernacles or Sukkot September/October. The Scriptures utilize a Biblical calendar with the first month being in spring at the time of Passover (Exodus 12:2).

Zechariah would have served in the spring for Passover/Unleavened Bread.  After Passover, he would have returned home until his lineage service began, eight weeks or about 50 days later.   

5.  Zechariah would have returned to the Temple for his two week duties as part of the lineage of Abijah.  This would have fallen in mid-June during the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot (Pentecost). 

Altar of Incense

6.   An angel of the LORD appeared to Zechariah during his time in the Temple at the Altar of Incense.

As a descendant of Aaron, he would have ministered in the Most Holy Place.  It is at the Altar of Incense that intercessory prayer is made by the priesthood. The angel of the LORD met Zechariah at this specific place and time.  He told him he was going to have a son who he was to name John.  Because of his unbelief, Zechariah is made mute by the angel until the time of his son’s birth. 

 

“… your prayers have been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John”  (Luke 1:13).

7.   Zechariah returns home after his Temple service. He and Elizabeth conceive a child.  Elizabeth remains in seclusion for five months.

“When his time of service was completed, he returned home.  After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion” (Luke 1:23-24).

Angel Visits Mary

8.  One month later, “when Elizabeth was in her sixth month,” the angel Gabriel visited Mary (Luke 1:26).

Some people question whether this was the sixth month of the year or the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  With the wording of Elizabeth being in seclusion for five months and then  “in the sixth month,” it would seem that the months are contiguous and based on Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  Also, the angel tells Mary “Even Elizabeth your relative  … is in her fifth month” giving a witness to the timing of the angel’s visit  (Luke 1:36).

9.  Mary conceives a child by the Holy Spirit and immediately goes to visit Elizabeth.

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39).

Elizabeth’s baby leaps in her womb

When Mary greets her cousin, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps.  According to the time period given for Elizabeth’s seclusion,  this most likely would have been the first contact she had with another woman and maybe even the first time she felt the movement of her child.  It is apparent that her unborn son knew the blessing of the Spirit of God on Mary.  The meeting of these two pregnant women had such profound significance that Luke recorded it with details.   Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy in the womb recognizing the newly conceived Messiah of Israel.

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy”  (Luke 1:44).

Six months after Zechariah’s Temple service in mid-June would be about mid-to-late December.   The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah occurs at this time as a memorial to the rededication of the Temple after it was defiled by the Greeks. It is also known as the Festival of Lights because the Temple Menorah was once again lit after its desecration.  It was during Hanukkah, the time of dedication, that the Spirit of God came upon Mary and she conceived Immanuel, God with us, the Light of the World.

Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 not only has prophetic significance about her baby, but is quite the declaration of humble ‘dedication‘ regarding the ‘light of the world.’

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name” (Verses 46-49).

10. Mary stays with Elizabeth for about three months.

“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son” (Luke 1:56-57).

Mary returns to Nazareth very close to the time Elizabeth would deliver her baby.  The timing for the birth of Elizabeth’s baby would be mid-March/April or near Passover.    

11.  On the eighth day after the baby’s birth, he is circumcised and named.

Continuing with the Biblical timeline, Zechariah’s son would have been born right before Passover.   This means that Zechariah would have gone to the Temple for his regular service at Passover and while there, he names his son, John, in the presence of astonished people.    This is the first time he has spoken since the angel visited him months before at the Altar of Incense on Shavuot.

“At that moment, his power of speech returned, and his first words were a b’rakhah [blessing] to God” (Luke 1:64).

12. From the information given about the conceptions and pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth, it can be calculated that John and Jesus (Yeshua) were born six months apart.

Six months after Passover in the spring (March/April) would be the fall (September/October), the time of ‘ingathering’ or the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Feast of Tabernacles also falls approximately nine months after Hanukkah in December.

Because of the Roman census being taken by Caesar Augustus, Bethlehem was bustling with Jews from everywhere in Israel.  All native born Israelites, specifically men, were required to live in booths or sukkot for the week of Tabernacles. Women and children who were with their husbands filled all of the inns to capacity. 

“Live in booths (sukkot) for seven days:  All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:42).

Under these crowded conditions, Joseph and Mary are given a temporary dwelling, called a stable in most Bible translations, and Mary gives birth to her son.  The baby was placed in a cattle feeding trough (Luke 2:4-7).

“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger (sukkah) …” (Luke 2:6).

Yeshua in a Sukkah

According to the command in Leviticus 23, the Israelites were to live in a sukkah for seven days.  Consistent with the rabbinical definition of a temporary dwelling or sukkah, a stable would have been  an acceptable substitute.  Because of the timing of Yeshua’s birth during the Feast of Tabernacles, many people believe that it was not a literal stable, but a sukkah.   The Greek word for ‘manger’ in Luke 2:7 is phatne and can mean ‘cattle stall’ or sukkoth just like what Jacob built for his livestock (Genesis 33:17).  The equivalent Hebrew word for ‘manger’ is the singular sukkah. 

Using this information along with the established timeline, Yeshua would have been born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and would have lived with his parents in the sukkah for the first seven days of his life until he was circumcised and named on the eighth day.   Whatever the specific accommodations,  Joseph fulfilled God’s requirement to live in a temporary dwelling during Sukkot as did Yeshua who was the firstborn son of God.

13.   The angels rejoiced because ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…’ (John 1:14, Luke 2).

The Greek word for ‘dwelling’ in this verse is skenoo and means  ‘spread his tent’ among us.  As a booth or sukkah is a temporary dwelling like a tent, this verse could read, “The Word became flesh and spread his tent (tabernacle) among us” making a direct allusion to Yeshua being born at the Feast of Tabernacles. 

14.  On the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests in the Temple would wave large branches of several different trees  in the Temple.

The Lulav: Willow, Palm, Myrtle and Citron (Etrog)

These branches were called lulavs and represented the different nations of the world.  Hundreds of priests waving large branches from the willow, the palm and the myrtle, would have created an enormous sound like a ‘rushing wind’ as they walked toward the Temple.  In Hebrew,  the word for God’s Spirit is ruach and means ‘wind.’  As the priests were waving these tree branches, they were unaware of the birth of Yeshua.  They had no idea that the salvation of Israel, through the ‘wind’ of God and a humble woman, had come to live in a little baby. 

“So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month… celebrate a festival to the LORD for seven days …. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD  your God for seven days” (Leviticus 23:39-41).

15. There were shepherds in the hills outside of Jerusalem  (Luke 2:8-15).

“As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem” (Micah 4:8).

Tower of the Flock

The shepherds in the hills near Bethlehem, a short distance from Jerusalem,  were special shepherds.  They camped at the Migdal Eder and raised the sacrificial sheep for the Temple offerings.  According to the prophecy in Micah, the Jewish people believed that the Messiah would be revealed at the Migdal Eder, “the tower of the flock.”

At the time of Yeshua’s birth, there  was an actual military watchtower above the hills that was used to protect Bethlehem.  This tower also was used by the shepherd to guard the Temple sheep from robbers.  It was from these sheep that the Passover lambs were chosen.  When the angels came announcing the ‘good news’ to all the world, these shepherds would have completely understood the meaning because they were at the exact location for the prophesy of Messiah’s birth to be fulfilled. 

16.  Eight days later, it was time for the baby’s circumcision and naming (Luke 2:21).

Eight days after a sons’ birth, the father would take the child to be circumcised and named because the mother would still be in her time of purification and could not enter the Temple area.  When Yeshua is eight days old, Joseph takes his infant son to Jerusalem to the Temple and names him Yeshua as he was commanded by the angel.  Yeshua means ‘salvation.’

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘the LORD saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21-22).

Rejoicing in the Torah – Simchat Torah

The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated for seven days.  The following day, the eighth day, there is a special celebration called Simchat Torah  which means ‘Rejoicing in the Torah.’   As Yeshua was being named by his father, crowds were in the Temple courts dancing, singing, and rejoicing in the Torah.   In their midst, without their knowledge, the living Torah had just been named Salvation.

“On the eighth day, when it came time to circumcise him, he was named Yeshua, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived” (Luke 2:21).

17.   Mary’s purification completed.

“When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest a year-old lamb … and a young pigeon or dove…. He shall offer them before YHVH … and she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.  …If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves …” (Leviticus 12:6-8).

Redemption of the Firstborn

Forty days after Yeshua’s birth, Mary’s time of purification was completed. She and Joseph took Yeshua to the Temple for the Redemption of the Firstborn according to the Torah command in Leviticus 12:8.   It was at this time, they offered the sacrifice of the doves. 

“When the time of her purification according to the Torah of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written) …” (Luke 2:22).

There were two prophets in the Temple who knew and expected the Word to become flesh, salvation of Israel to be revealed.  Simeon and Anna, two witnesses to Messiah’s birth, spoke prophecies over Yeshua in the presence of his parents.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. …There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher” (Luke 2:25,39).

18. At this time, a sign appeared in the heavens (Matthew 2:1-2).

Every kingdom in the known world had astronomers who studied and understood the signs in the heavens.   Each culture, but more specifically the Jewish culture, looked to the heavens for the fulfillment of  Biblical prophecy.   Constellations, planets and stars moved to tell God’s story as well as to set His ‘appointed time’s.  Other middle eastern cultures studied the Hebrew concepts and understood their connection to the people of Israel.

Astronomers from the east (probably from what is modern day Iraq/Iran) saw this “sign” in the heavens and began their journey toward Jerusalem to bow down and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   The word ‘star’ in this verse is the Hebrew is kokhav and is referred to in Numbers 24:17 along with the scepter from Jacob, all terminology for  stars and planets that are ‘signs in the heavens.’

19.  The magi or wise men arrived in Bethlehem.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:9).

The journey of ‘the wise men,’ (number unknown and probably a lot more than three) took a long time to get to Israel as they were on foot and traveled a great distance of nearly 500 miles.  When they finally arrived in Jerusalem, Yeshua was no longer a baby nor living in a sukkah.  The Scripture calls Yeshua a child and the wise men came to his home with their gifts.  They returned back to Iran/Iraq by a different route because Herod was angry that there was another ‘king’ and sent out an edit for the murder of all baby boys under the age of two in and around Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-18).

This is how the conception, birth, and life began for Yeshua.  According to the information written in the Torah, Prophets, and Gospels, Yeshua was born in the ‘season of our rejoicing’, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in a sukkah. The shepherds knew from the angelic hosts that ‘peace on earth and good will toward men’ had come as the ‘lamb of God’ in the town of the Migdal Eder, Bethlehem.  While all Israel rejoiced in the Torah given by God, the living Torah, the begotten Son of God was circumcised and named Salvation.

© 1997 Tent Stake Ministries

(For a hard copy of this teaching,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah.  Thank you.