Why Keep the Feast of Tabernacles
How many professing Christians have even so much as ever heard of the Feast of Tabernacles?
Few in today’s “Christianity” realize that Yeshua the Messiah, his apostles and the New Testament Church of HASHEM Elohim all observed the Feast of Tabernacles. Why, then, don’t those who profess to be Christians follow the Messiah’s steps by keeping this Festival and the other feasts of HASHEM Elohim instead of the holidays of this present evil world — many of which originated in ancient paganism?
What are HASHEM’s feasts?
Notice HASHEM’s instructions to Moses:
“And the ADONI spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the ADONI, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts” (Leviticus 23:1-2).
Notice that these instructions came from HASHEM Elohim Himself. He, when referring to the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles, calls them “the feasts of the ADONI.” “Even these are my feasts,” declares the great Elohim!
Why, then, do the vast majority of ministers today dare teach that these Elohim-ordained festivals are merely the “feasts of the Israelites” or scoff at them as Jewish observances?
In this same 23rd chapter of Leviticus, HASHEM Elohim clearly orders His people to observe the weekly Sabbath as well as all of His commanded annual feasts. In three places, He commands that these “feasts of the ADONI” be observed “for ever” (verses 21, 31, 41). The Hebrew word olam, rendered for ever in the English translations, means “eternal” or “everlasting.”
The Feast of Tabernacles
“And the ADONI spake unto Moses, saying…The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the ADONI. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein….on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you…it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein” (verses 33-36).
Because HASHEM Elohim commanded “an offering made by fire unto the ADONI” for “seven days” (verse 36), some have concluded that the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles are no longer to be kept, since animal sacrifices are no longer commanded during this New Testament age.
But this is not sound reasoning. Animal sacrifices were offered on every day of every week (Numbers 28:3-4), not just during the Feast of Tabernacles. True, Yeshua the Messiah was sacrificed and became the Christian’s substitute “Passover” (I Corinthians 5:7), ending the need for animal sacrifices. But the Messiah’s sacrifice no more did away with HASHEM’s annual Holy Days than it would have done away with any of the other days of the week. The Messiah’s sacrifice did not mean that the followers of HASHEM Elohim were no longer to keep HASHEM’s weekly or yearly Sabbaths.
In which month of HASHEM’s sacred calendar was the Feast of Tabernacles to be observed? “And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month [corresponding roughly with our October] ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work, and ye shall keep a feast unto the ADONI seven days” (Numbers 29:12).
Notice that the Feast of Tabernacles was always observed after the great fall harvest: “Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite [HASHEM’s ministers], the stranger [or foreigner], and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates” (Deuteronomy 16:13-14).
Though there was a serious purpose behind this Feast, it was intended to be a time of great rejoicing before HASHEM Elohim.
“Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the ADONI thy Elohim in the place which the ADONI shall choose: because the ADONI thy Elohim shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice” (verse 15).
During the Feast of Tabernacles HASHEM’s people were to have all sorts of wonderful foods and delightful drinks to cheer them (Deuteronomy 14:22-29).
Furthermore, at these commanded convocations, HASHEM instructed His people to make offerings in thankful appreciation to the Giver of all gifts.
“Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the ADONI thy Elohim in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks [Pentecost], and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the ADONI empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the ADONI thy Elohim which he hath given thee” (Deuteronomy 16:16-17).
If all of Israel’s males assembled before HASHEM Elohim to keep His commanded feasts, would that not have posed a great danger for the nation? Notice this significant promise by HASHEM Elohim: “And thou shalt observe…the feast of ingathering at the year’s end. Thrice in the year shall all your men-children appear before the ADONI Elohim, the Elohim of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire [to invade] thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the ADONI thy Elohim thrice in the year” (Exodus 34:22-24).
When the people of Israel faithfully obeyed HASHEM Elohim and kept His commanded festivals, HASHEM blessed and prospered them, and He also protected them from foreign invasion. However, Israel did not long continue to keep HASHEM’s commanded festivals, and He let gentile nations destroy them, carrying them into captivity in other nations (Ezekiel 20:12-24).
The rebellious 10 tribes of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) were taken into captivity by Assyria in about 721 B.C. They never returned to their homeland in Palestine. The Jews (of the Southern Kingdom of Judah), after their 70-year captivity, did finally resettle in the promised land.
Realizing that their fathers had gone into captivity because they didn’t keep HASHEM’s commanded feasts, the returning Judahites (Jews) decided to keep the festivals of the ADONI diligently.
“And Nehemiah…and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day [the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles] is holy unto the ADONI your Elohim…Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet…neither be ye grieved. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth…” (Nehemiah 8:9-12).
The people of Israel, including the Judahites, had not kept the Feast of Tabernacles since the time of Joshua, just after they entered the promised land (verse 17). But from the time of Ezra and Nehemiah forward, the Judahites kept HASHEM’s annual Sabbaths, including the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Messiah kept this Feast
The Judahites persevered in keeping HASHEM’s commanded feasts for the next 500 years, until the time of the Messiah. Yeshua also kept HASHEM’s feasts, and these included the Feast of Booths.
“Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand” (John 7:2). Shortly before the Feast began, the Messiah told his brethren to keep the Festival: “Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast…But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought him at the feast…Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught” (verses 8-14).
Did Yeshua the Messiah remain for the entire Feast? Certainly!
“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. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (verses 37-38).
Yes, Yeshua the Messiah kept the Feast of Tabernacles with the Judahites, as he also kept the other commanded feasts with them. By so doing, he was “leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Peter 2:21).
Apostles kept HASHEM’s feasts
The book of Acts clearly reveals that the Messiah’s apostles continued keeping the feasts of HASHEM after the New Testament Church of HASHEM Elohim began in A.D. 31. Notice, for example, the celebration of Pentecost in Acts 2 and the keeping of the Days of Unleavened Bread in chapter 12, verses 3 and 4.
But did Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, also keep HASHEM’s feasts?
It was Paul who was observing the Feast of Pentecost, an annual Sabbath, mentioned in Acts 16:13 and 20:16. Paul and his company also observed the Days of Unleavened Bread (Acts 20:6), and he kept the Day of Atonement (“the fast”) mentioned in Acts 27:9.
But did Paul ever keep the Feast of Tabernacles? He certainly did.
Paul, in about A.D. 50, traveled from Asia into Europe and began preaching the Gospel at Philippi “on the day of weeks” — Pentecost, according to the Greek text (Acts 16:13). After spending a few weeks at Philippi (verse 12), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1), Berea (verse 10) and Athens (verse 15), Paul came to Corinth in the late summer of A.D. 50 (Acts 18:1). He spent several Sabbaths teaching in the synagogue (verse 4), and continued holding meetings in the house of Justus (verse 7) for “a year and six months” (verse 11). This brings us to sometime during the spring of A.D. 52. After a riot in Corinth had been quelled, Paul “tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria” (verse 18). By now it was well into the summer of A.D. 52, which means that the feasts of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost were both past. The major autumn Feast of Tabernacles was fast approaching.
“And he [Paul] came to Ephesus…When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast [of Tabernacles] that cometh in Jerusalem” (verses 19-21). Notice that he felt impelled to “keep” the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem.
Since Paul kept HASHEM’s commanded festivals, including the Feast of Tabernacles, why do some claim that he taught it wasn’t necessary for gentile Christians to keep HASHEM’s Holy Days? Never once did he say this.
“Ye observe days”
Some misunderstand and pervert the meaning of Paul’s statement in Galatians 4:10, “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.” Is Paul here labeling the observance of HASHEM Elohim’s Holy Days unnecessary?
Remember, Paul is talking to gentile Galatians who had never observed HASHEM’s commanded Holy Days. They had, however, observed (as did all pagan nations) certain days, months, times and years. This is what Paul was scolding the Galatians about. “I am afraid of you, lest, I have bestowed upon you labour in vain,” said Paul (verse 11). “How turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (verse 9). Paul was decrying the Galatians’ tendency to hold to their former pagan observances.
Many also misunderstand the meaning of Paul’s statement in Colossians 2:16, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of [margin, in part of ] an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” Was Paul abrogating HASHEM’s command to keep His feasts?
Notice. Paul was telling the Christians at Colossae not to let anyone take them to task regarding how they observed HASHEM’s Holy Days or the Sabbath. He did not say, “Let no man therefore keep an holyday, or the new moon, or the sabbath day.”
A better translation of this verse would read as follows: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in part of [not “in respect of”] an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is [not in Greek text] of Christ [should judge] you in these matters.”
In other words, it was the Church (“the body of Christ”) that was to judge the Christians at Colossae, not outsiders, in the way they observed HASHEM Elohim’s commanded Holy Days and the weekly Sabbath. The Colossians were right in keeping HASHEM’s Holy Days, no matter what any non-Christians said. Nothing whatsoever is said about not keeping the days.
Another text often distorted to imply that HASHEM’s commanded feasts should not be kept today is Isaiah 1:14, “Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.”
We have seen that the “feasts of the ADONI” as given in the Bible are spoken of by HASHEM Elohim as “my feasts” (Leviticus 23:2). Here HASHEM is attacking what He refers to as “your appointed feasts.”
Through the prophet Isaiah, HASHEM Elohim was condemning the many humanly devised feasts that the Judahites had, of their own accord, added to the list of those HASHEM had given them.
Would HASHEM Elohim command His feasts for “for ever” and then turn right around and abolish them?
HASHEM did not do away with His own feasts, but the way they were then being observed by His people was displeasing unto him — was as “iniquity” (Isaiah 1:13).
Why keep these days?
So why do I keep the Feast of Tabernacles?
Because HASHEM Elohim calls these Holy Days “the feasts of the ADONI” and commands that they be observed “for ever.”
I keep the Feast of Tabernacles because Yeshua the Messiah did, setting an example for all believers who would follow his steps.
I observe this important Feast because the New Testament Church of HASHEM Elohim did, as recorded in Acts.
I keep the ADONI’s feasts because Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, observed them and commanded the gentile converts to keep them.
I keep “the feasts of the ADONI” because the Word of HASHEM Elohim prophesies that all nations will observe the Feast of Tabernacles in HASHEM’s soon-coming Kingdom, or reap dire consequences for not doing so (Zechariah 14:16-19).
I observe HASHEM’s Feast of Booths because it pictures the great millennial harvest of humans on this earth, during the wonderful, utopian rule of HASHEM Elohim and His Messiah on this earth for 1,000 years.
I observe the Festival of Tabernacles because for more than 35 years my family and I have found it to be the most wonderful, joyous time of the entire year — a time of physical and spiritual feasting. Unlike Christmas and other so-called “Christian” festivals, the Feast of Tabernacles is not a time when there are endless family quarrels, fights, murders, adulteries, drunkenness, indebtedness and heartaches of every description.
I observe HASHEM’s wonderful Feast of Tabernacles because that is the time when all of HASHEM’s people get away from their daily cares, their mundane pursuits and from the many evil ensnarements of Satan’s world, and fellowship with people of like mind for one happy, glorious week.
By keeping the Festival of Tabernacles (like thousands of HASHEM’s people), I am able to be rejuvenated both physically and spiritually. For an entire week, my family and I can enjoy the best food, drink and fellowship possible. This festive week is a time of great rejoicing, mixed with sober reflections of HASHEM’s way, of His Word and of His great master plan for all mankind.
Why do I observe HASHEM’s Feast of Tabernacles?
Because I love HASHEM Elohim, fear that great Being and want to please Him by “keep[ing] his commandments, and do[ing] those things that are pleasing in his sight” (I John 3:22).
And — I enjoy being a pioneer! Isn’t it much better to voluntarily keep the Feast of Tabernacles now, than to be forced to do so later?
When the world keeps this Feast
Bible prophecy reveals that the world will never experience universal health, happiness, peace and prosperity until HASHEM Elohim’s government is restored to this earth. When that government is restored, will mankind continue to observe its present pagan holidays, or HASHEM Elohim’s feasts?
“And it shall come to pass,” says HASHEM Elohim, “that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).
What will happen if some nations decide they don’t want to observe the Festival of Booths?
“And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the ADONI of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain” (verse 17).
If a nation refuses to observe this important Feast and HASHEM Elohim visits that country with severe drought, what will happen if the nation still won’t keep this Festival?
“And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the ADONI will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles” (verse 18).
Will HASHEM Elohim be impartial in meting out His judgments upon Egypt or any nation that refuses to keep His commanded Feast of Tabernacles?
“This shall be the punishment,” says HASHEM Elohim, “of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles” (verse 19).
Today, thousands of HASHEM’s people annually observe the Feast of Booths. It is truly a time of joyful feasting — a time of rejoicing in good, clean fun and fellowship, while we for one week experience a little of what the soon-coming Kingdom of HASHEM Elohim will be like!