The Lord’s appointed times, or mo’adim (מועדים)[i], are unique commemorative gatherings that He commanded the children of Israel to observe shortly after their exodus from Egypt. All the feasts of the Lord are concisely given in Leviticus 23. Let us briefly review some of their key elements as outlined in this chapter:
- They are holy convocations, which means they are sacred and are to be observed in community.
- They are Sabbath-rest days, in which customary work is forbidden.
- With the exception of Shabbat, a burnt offering or sacrifice is required for each appointed time.
- They belong to the Lord; they are His and they reveal Him to be holy, precise, and perfectly complete.
- They are permanent statutes.
- They are prophetic as they foretell of Messiah and His coming kingdom.
As the last article in our series on the prophetic nature of the Lord’s appointed times, it is fitting to focus on the final fulfillment of these feasts, which culminates in Sukkot (pronounced soo-coat), the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. The Lord commands Moses to instruct the children of Israel to observe Sukkot in Leviticus 23:34-36[ii]:
34Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles (חג הסוכות) for seven days to the Lord.35On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. 36For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.
There are a few additional, unique characteristics of Sukkot, which the Lord clearly dictates to Moses in verses 39-43. These are key to understanding the prophetic nature of the feast:
- Harvest – the Lord commands the children of Israel to reap the harvest by gathering fruit, palm tree branches, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; Yeshua spoke of the harvest of souls ready for reaping in John 4:34-38. Harvest is a key element of Sukkot, which foreshadows the final harvest of souls before Yeshua returns to establish His kingdom.
- Booths – the Lord instructs them to construct temporary shelters (sukkot/סוכות) from that which they have gathered and dwell in them for seven days, as a reminder that they dwelled in booths when He delivered them from Egypt; Yeshua gave us the Holy Spirit to dwell with us in His physical absence until His return (John 16), and He promised that He would be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). The temporary dwelling of booths is not only a reminder that this earth is our temporary home, but also that we await the day when our Messiah will return to physically dwell with us as our King.
- 8th Day – this is the only appointed time that includes an eighth day Sabbath-rest, which we call Shminei Atzeret (literally, the eighth day of the assembly). This is very important, as the number 8 represents a new beginning, restoration, redemption, and kingdom.[iii] The 8th day of Sukkot foretells of the kingdom that Messiah Yeshua will establish during His millennial reign before the Ancient of Days appears to reign with Messiah eternally from the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21; Daniel 7:13-14)
- Rejoicing – the Lord commands the children of Israel to rejoice before Him for seven days. This is very significant in that it not only reminds us that the Lord is our provider, but also that we can joyfully expect full restoration of all that was lost in the Garden of Eden, namely our uninterrupted fellowship with the Almighty God!
It is no coincidence that Sukkot is the final feast of the Lord; it is the climax in God’s redemptive story of mankind! Sukkot foreshadows Messiah’s return to reign for 1,000 years, and to dwell among us once the final harvest of souls has been completed, and the wrath of God has been poured out to cleanse the world of all evil.
The prophets Zechariah and Yochanan (John) both received prophecies concerning this feast as it pertains to Messiah’s millennial reign. Zechariah received a clear-cut vision of the end-times celebration of Sukkot, while Yochanan received a more indirect vision of the feast in the book of Revelation.
In Zechariah 14, we get a very grim picture of the destruction that is coming on Jerusalem, i.e., the day of the Lord. However, we also see that the Lord Himself will come to “fight against those nations” that came up against Jerusalem (14:3). This is the return of Messiah Yeshua as Israel’s warrior! The rest of the chapter, up until verse 16, speaks of the great judgment coming upon the nations, which I understand to be the great tribulation followed by the outpouring of God’s wrath, but also of the great redemption that Messiah is bringing with Him once that is accomplished.
In verse 16, we see that after the earth has been cleansed and purified, those that are left of the nations will actually come up to Jerusalem “year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16b) This is a clear fulfillment of Sukkot! It is interesting to note that this is now mandated for the nations and not just Israel. It is yet another reminder that although salvation comes from the Jews, it is for the nations as well. (John 4:22; Romans 1:16)
The vision that Yochanan received pertaining to Sukkot is most clearly connected to Messiah’s thousand-year reign in Revelation 20, and then the ensuing New Jerusalem from which the Lamb (Messiah Yeshua) and the Almighty reign in chapters 21 and 22. Although the Feast of Tabernacles is not written by name, his entire vision of Messiah returning to fight on behalf of Israel, and then reign as King parallels Zechariah’s vision.
In essence, the literal fulfillment of Sukkot acknowledges our deepest longing to restore God’s presence with us in a physical way, much like it was in the Garden of Eden. When the Ancient of Days and Messiah Yeshua will tabernacle, or dwell, with us once again, it will be in a purified state, where we can eternally rejoice and worship our King.
3And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of Elohim is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. Elohim Himself will be with them and be their God. 4And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:3-4
Indeed, great trials and tribulation will come upon our world before the full restoration of His kingdom can come, but we can hold out hope in Him, persevere to the end, and keep our eyes looking to eternity, our ultimate reward!
[i] The words appointed times, mo’adim, and feasts are used interchangeably throughout the article.
[ii] All Scripture is quoted from the Hebrew-English Bible, published by the Bible Society in Israel.
[iii] This is taken from the book “יסודות האמונה”, recently published by Hope for Israel and Pdut Ministries, and is available by contacting Hope for Israel ministries.