Authority in God's Vineyard
The Feast of Tabernacles (CONT)
Issue No. 140
There were three times in the year when all the men of Israel were called to stand before God (Ex. 34:23). The feast of Tabernacles was the third and final time. It was the most joyous of the three festivals, a time of thanksgiving for all the fruits of the land that had been harvested.
The harvests had begun with the firstfruits of the barley offered on the wave-sheaf offering after Passover. Seven weeks later, on Pentecost, the two loaves of wheat that had been baked with leaven were offered to God to remember the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. The third feast, according to the great scholar, Alfred Edersheim,
". . . reminded Israel, on the one hand, of their dwelling in booths in the wilderness, while, on the other hand, it pointed to the final harvest when Israel's mission should be completed, and all nations gathered unto the Lord." (The Temple, p. 269)
This is the prophetic reason the feast is also called "the feast of ingathering" (Ex. 23:16). The harvest of all the fruits of the land symbolize the ingathering of all nations into the house of God to keep the feast. This is why we read in Zechariah 14 that in the end of days all nations will be required to keep the feast of Tabernacles. Verse 9 says,
9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.
Who is "the Lord" here? It is Yahweh in the original Hebrew text. However, understand that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament. Yahweh is Jesus in his pre-incarnate state. Moses is the first to tell us this in Exodus 15:2, in the inspired song after Pharaoh was overthrown:
2 The LORD [Yahweh] is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation [Yeshua]; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will extol Him.
Yeshua is the Hebrew word translated "salvation." It is also the Hebrew name for Jesus. In other words, this verse tells us that the God of heaven, who revealed Himself to Moses under the name Yahweh, "has become my Yeshua."
Many years later, an old man named Simeon had been given a revelation that He would see the Messiah before he died (Luke 2:26). Forty days after Jesus had been born, Mary came to the temple at the end of her purification. When Simeon heard the name of the baby was Yeshua, he knew immediately that this was the prophesied child. We read in Luke 2:28-32,
28 Then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 "Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart In peace, according to Thy word; 30 for my eyes have seen Thy salvation, 31 which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel."
Simeon was speaking Hebrew, even though we use the Greek text of the New Testament. He literally said, "for my eyes have seen Thy Yeshua." Now Simeon could die a happy man at a ripe old age. Now the Word was fulfilled to Him from Psalm 91:16,
16 With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him behold My salvation [Yeshua].
There are many Bible passages that prophesy of Jesus Christ and identify Him with Yahweh. They show that Yahweh became Yeshua by His incarnation in Bethlehem. He is the King of Israel, but He is also the King over all the earth. The feast of Tabernacles proclaims that great truth, and that day will mark the manifestation of His Kingship to all men.
Tabernacles Begins on Tishri 15
The feast of Tabernacles each year begins on the 15th day of the seventh month (Tishri) of the Hebrew calendar. This year (2000) Tishri 15 falls on October 14, and it is to be celebrated for 7 days through October 20. Then comes the great 8th day of Tabernacles, October 21, 2000. But there is another manner of fulfillment as well, for we have shown in our last bulletin that there is also a 7-YEAR fulfillment of Tabernacles from 1999-2006.
In our study, we also showed that the year from 1999-2000 is the first growing season of YEAR ONE, and that the grapes will be ripened by October to pour out the drink offering of the first vial (bowl) of new wine. Because it takes time to grow grapes, the wine is not actually poured out until the beginning of YEAR TWO on the Hebrew calendar. The new year begins at the Feast of Trumpets, which this year falls on September 30, 2000.
One may find this a strange discrepancy, but it actually lines up perfectly with another time cycle. You recall from our past studies (see our book, Secrets of Time) that October of 1986 marked the 120th Jubilee from Adam. We showed how this was the major hinge date for modern history in the progression of the Kingdom of God. Well, October of 2000 marks the beginning of the 15th YEAR from 1986.
It is almost like we are seeing the Hebrew calendar manifested with a year for a day. Tishri 1 is the year from 1986-1987. Tishri 2 is the year from 1987-1988. Tishri 15, by this manner of reckoning, begins in the 15th year from October 1986. That is, September 30, 2000 (Feast of Trumpets this year) is the beginning of the 15th year.
There were also 15 steps in the old temple in Jesus' day, leading from the Court of the Women to the inner Court of Israel. In 1986 we began to climb the 15 steps to the Court of Israel. We will reach the 15th step on Sept. 30, 2000.
This will mark the beginning of the destruction of that middle wall of partition that has separated God's people and hindered the purpose of the temple--which was to be a House of Prayer for All People. Isaiah 56 says of this day,
6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath, and holds fast My covenant; 7 even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, "Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered."
The middle wall of partition separating women from men and non-Israelites from Israelites was not part of God's instructions on building the temple. It was a wall built by the traditions of men--and it must be torn down in order that we be a complete body and a house of prayer for all people. Paul speaks of this wall in Ephesians 2:13-17,
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances [i.e., the traditions of men], that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
As we pointed out earlier, the law made no provision to erect a dividing wall in the temple. The division was done through the traditions of men, or Jewish law, NOT the divine law. In Christ's first coming, He broke down this dividing wall. He does the same in His second coming, for many in the Church have once again restored that dividing wall through their own traditions.
In Isaiah 56, quoted earlier, we saw that when God gathers the lost House of Israel from their dispersion, He would also gather others, "foreigners," with them, in order that God's House might be called a House of Prayer for ALL PEOPLE. This implies the destruction of this dividing wall insofar as approaching God is concerned.
The 70 Nations Restored to God
During the 7 days of the feast of Tabernacles, the priests were to sacrifice 70 bullocks (Num. 29:12-32). The first day they sacrificed 13 bullocks; the second day 12; the third day 11, and so on. On the 7th day they sacrificed 7 bullocks. The total is 70. Edersheim tells us in The Temple, page 277, quoting from the Talmud,
"There were seventy bullocks to correspond to the number of the seventy nations in the world."
This is referring to the fact that Genesis 10 records the beginnings of the nations descended from Noah. If you count them, they total 70. Hence, 70 signifies the number of "all nations" and specifically "the restoration of all nations." The purpose of these particular sacrifices during the feast of Tabernacles is to pray that God would restore all the nations of the world to Himself in order to fulfill the prophecies in the Word.
The Drink Offerings
Numbers 29 speaks of the "drink offerings," to be offered at Tabernacles, but it does not specify the nature of those drink offerings. In the ceremonies in Jesus' day, the priests offered both water and wine as drink offerings. In our previous bulletin we focused upon the drink offerings of the new wine. Here, now, we will focus more upon the drink offering of water that was poured out during the 7 days of Tabernacles. Edersheim tells us what they did in his book on page 277 and 278,
"While the morning sacrifice was being prepared, a priest, accompanied by a joyous procession with music, went down to the pool of Siloam, whence he drew water into a golden pitcher, capable of holding three log (rather more than two pints)."
At the same time another group was sent to gather willow branches, with which they built a leafy canopy over the brazen altar. Then the morning sacrifice was offered, and the priest carrying the water from Siloam timed his mission so that he returned through the Water Gate just as the priest was throwing the meat upon the altar. At that moment the priests blew three blasts of the trumpet.
Both sides of the altar were equipped with two silver basins with narrow holes. Into the eastern basin a priest poured the wine offering, while into the western basin was poured the water at the same time. At the same time all the people shouted to the priest, "Raise your hand!" in order to verify that the water and wine had indeed been poured.
Then the music began. The Hallel was sung (Psalms 113-118). When they came to Psalm 118:1 and again in verse 25, all the people shook their luvavs toward the altar. These luvavs were branches of trees, having at least one fruit on it, which they had brought to the temple to wave as they rejoiced before God, according to Lev. 23:40. They also waved these branches while singing Psalm 118:25,
25 O LORD, do save, we beseech Thee ["Hosanna"]; O LORD, we beseech Thee, do send prosperity! 26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; we have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
This is what the people were shouting and perhaps singing on Palm Sunday during Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem a few days before Passover (Matt. 21:8, 9). While that event occurred six months before the feast of Tabernacles, it nonetheless foreshadowed the fulfillment of Tabernacles. Jesus told the people in Matt. 23:38, 39,
38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"
In other words, He would not come again until the feast of Tabernacles was fulfilled.
The purpose of His second coming is to fulfill the second half of the sign of Jonah. The first sign was to die and be laid in the heart of the earth for 3 days. The second sign is to preach the Word to Nineveh, representing the nations of the world, and to convert them. It is to put all things under His feet--that is, under His rulership and headship. We are about to enter into that second sign, and this outpouring of the Spirit will continue until Revelation 5:11-14 is fulfilled,
11 And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped.
Pouring out the water at the feast of Tabernacles was meant to depict the outpouring of the Spirit, as had been prophesied by Joel 2:23 and 28. The people, however, viewed this in a more carnal fashion, thinking that this ceremony merely prayed for rain, which generally began to fall around the time of Tabernacles. This rain was, indeed, important to the people's planting of crops in that time of the year, but more importantly, it depicted the outpouring of the Spirit at the feast of Tabernacles.
Thus the Talmud says distinctly, "Why is the name of it called, 'the drawing out of water'? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said, 'With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.' [Isaiah 12:3]
The Hebrew word in Isaiah 12:3 translated "salvation" is YESHUA. We are to draw water out of the wells of Yeshua--that is, out of Jesus Himself. For this reason, in John 7:37 and 38, as the last words of Psalm 118 were sung on the 8th day of Tabernacles, Jesus (i.e., Yeshua) cried out with a loud voice, saying,
37 If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water."
The water was not poured out on the 8th of Tabernacles. The water was poured out only on the 7 days of the feast at the time of the evening sacrifice. So Jesus spoke these words at the time when no water was offered, but only Jesus Christ Himself. The people needed to draw water out of a different sort of well, not of Siloam, but of Jesus.
The priest did offer the daily wine offering that day, and the absence of water signifies that the water has now been turned to wine, as the sign shows us in John 2. It pictures a transformation and perhaps a transfiguration of those to whom the sign is given. With this is the fact that there was also a single bullock sacrificed on the eighth day of Tabernacles, according to the law in Numbers 29:36.
The bullocks went from thirteen to seven and now to one. Thirteen is the number of rebellion and disobedience. Here is the starting place of the nations. It moves to seven, the number of spiritual perfection. Then it moves to just one, the number of unity.
So the drink offerings as well as the meat offerings bring us to unity in Christ as His Body, His Temple, built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ being the Chief Cornerstone--and no longer having a dividing wall.
The Circuit Around the Altar
On each of the seven days of Tabernacles, the priests formed a procession and walked around the altar, singing Psalm 118:25, "O then, now, work salvation, Yahweh! O Yahweh, give prosperity." However, on the seventh day of the feast, the priests made the circuit around the altar seven times. Again, Edersheim tells us on page 280 of his book,
"But on the seventh . . . they made the circuit of the altar seven times, remembering how the walls of Jericho had fallen in similar circumstances, and anticipating how, by the direct interposition of God, the walls of heathenism would fall before Jehovah, and the land lie open for His people to go in and possess it."
We believe that we are seeing the fulfillment of these things in the year 2000. Dating from 1993, when we began our warfare against Babylon and Jericho, we are now in the seventh year. By means of spiritual warfare described in past bulletins, we have marched around Jericho once each year. But in the year 2000 we are having SEVEN special meetings of a prophetic nature. Strictly speaking, these are not classified as spiritual warfare, but are times where we gather to hear and discern the Word of the Lord, and then to decree what we have heard. These are serving as the prophetic counterparts to the seven times Israel marched around Jericho's walls, as well as to the seven circuits around the altar on the seventh of Tabernacles.
That day was also called the "Day of Willows" and the "Day of Beating the Branches," as Edersheim tells us, "because all the leaves were shaken off the willow boughs, and the palm branches beaten in pieces by the side of the altar." The imagery here portrays the destruction of Jericho and the judgment of nations ("trees"), by which He brings all nations into subjection to Christ.
In other words, the seven vials are about to be poured out. This is judgment and correction upon the false systems that presently hold the people captive. As these walls fall, the world will be open and ready for God's people to "possess the land"--not to institute another form of men's slavery, but to declare the Jubilee that will make all men the bondservants of Jesus Christ.
The Illumination of the Temple
During the feast of Tabernacles, the priests had another ceremony at the time of the evening sacrifices. It was the illumination of the temple each evening for seven days.
At the close of the day, after the sacrifices and drink offerings had been poured out, the worshippers came down from the Court of Israel to the Court of the Women, where four large golden lampstands had been set up, each with four golden bowls. Four young priests carrying pitchers of oil then filled the bowls of the lampstands.
This ceremony was intended to portray the glory of God in Jerusalem, a substitute for the darkness that actually existed in the Most Holy Place of the temple in that day; for the glory of God did not inhabit that place, as we know from history.
Even as the water was to be drawn from the wells of Yeshua (Isaiah 12:3), so also was the true Light of the world to shine from the same Person. And so the day after the feast had ended (See John 8:1), after Jesus had invited the thirsty to drink from Him, He tells the people in John 8:12,
12 Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."
The "light of life" comes when the fullness of the Spirit comes down to indwell the temple of our bodies. This is the inheritance of all, as (each in their own order) they come into the glorious experience of the feast of Tabernacles. It has both an individual and a corporate body fulfillment. The corporate body will grow and increase until it encompasses all the individuals.
Meanwhile, during the coming age, those who come into the fullness of Christ will rule with Him on the earth (Rev. 5:10). They will be the primary body of people that will minister to the world with authority as Ambassadors of Reconciliation, as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:19,
19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Let us, therefore, prepare our hearts for this calling that opportunity that yet lies ahead, when we are given the full empowerment to finish the work that Pentecost began.