Feast of Tabernacles 2012


The Feast of Tabernacles  began after the sun set last evening.

What is it?  Did early Christians keep it?

The ”Feast of Tabernacles” is an 8-day Biblical pilgrimage festival, also known as the ”Feast of Booths,’ the ”’Feast of Tabernacles,” or ”Tabernacles.” In the 7th day Church of God groups it is one of the most important holy days as it lasts the longest and normally requires a great deal of preparation and travel to be able to attend. But it is normally the physical and spiritual highlight of the year for those that do observe it.

Christians familiar with their Bibles know that Jesus kept the Feast of Tabernacles. This is discussed in detail in John chapter 7:10-26.  Others, like the Apostle Paul seem to have endorsed it (Acts 18:21). Jesus and Paul kept the feasts.

Gentiles and Others Have Kept the Feast of Tabernacles

Polycarp of Smyrna apparently taught this about the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day:

What must one say, when even He that was gentler than all men so appeals and cries out at the feast of Tabernacles? For it is written; And on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink (Pionius. Life of Polycarp, Chapter 19. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506).

The Greco-Roman Bishop & Saint Methodius of Olympus in the late 3rd or early 4th century taught that the Feast of Tabernacles was commanded and that it had lessons for Christians. And he tied it in with the teaching of the millennial reign of Christ:

…these things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell the resurrection and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth, which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in the new and indissoluble creation , the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting from the works of creation…

For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, so by a figure in the seventh month, when the fruits of the earth have been gathered in, we are commanded to keep the feast to the Lord , which signifies that, when this world shall be terminated at the seventh thousand years, when God shall have completed the world, He shall rejoice in us. For now to this time all things are created by His all-sufficient will and inconceivable power; the earth still yielding its fruits, and the waters being gathered together in their receptacles; and the light still severed from darkness, and the allotted number of men not yet being complete; and the sun arising to rule the day, and the moon the night; and four-footed creatures, and beasts, and creeping things arising from the earth, and winged creatures, and creatures that swim, from the water. Then, when the appointed times shall have been accomplished, and God shall have ceased to form this creation , in the seventh month, the great resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord , of which the things said in Leviticus are symbols and figures, which things, carefully investigating, we should consider the naked truth itself, for He says, A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb , and the interpretation; the words Of the wise, and their dark sayings. (Methodius. Banquet of the Ten Virgins (Discourse 9, Chapter 1). Translated by William R. Clark. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/062309.htm>)

Comments by Epiphanius and others in the late fourth century concerning the Nazarene Christians would also seem to support that those who kept the Fall Holy Days were located in several areas at that time (see Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?).

Notice the following report related to the Middle Ages:

Under the name of Passagini, we have the clearest sort of statement that these people, about 1200, observed the whole Old Testament law, including the Sabbath and FESTIVALS! People called Cathars at Cologne, Germany, kept a fall festival, called “Malilosa”, even before Waldo began to preach. Compare this unexplained name with Hebrew “melilah” (a harvested ear of grain — Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) and the Biblical title “Feast of Ingathering” (Ex. 23:16). How much more we might have known about these Middle Ages’ Feasts of Tabernacles had not the Inquisitors so zealously burned the records! The three-part division of tithes paid the Waldensian Church is significant. Even in the 1500’s the same division continued. “The money given us by the people is carried to the aforesaid general council, and is delivered in the presence of all, and there it is received by the most ancients (the elders), and part thereof is given to those that are wayfaring men, according to their necessities, and part unto the poor” (George Morel, Waldensian elder, quoted by Lennard, “History of the Waldenses”). 1. Compare this practice with Num. 18:21 and Deut. 14:22-25, 28-29. Isn’t it exactly what the Bible commands?… Most authors have ASSUMED the “wayfaring men” were the traveling “barbel.” But THEIR expenses would have been paid from the money given the elders, at EVERY time of year, for the direct conduct of the Work — “first” tithe and offerings. Notice that in Numbers 18:21. What Morel then mentions is a “second” tithe, for those traveling to and from the festivals — wayfaring men; and following it, the “third” to the poor. See the explanation in Deut. 14. Feast goers who had more “second tithe” than they needed shared their excess with those who had need, even as they do today! (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place …” Rev. 12:6).

Furthermore, Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania in the 1500s (and probably later kept) the Fall Holy Days such as the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Trumpets (called Day of Remembrance below):

The Sabbatarians viewed themselves as converted Gentiles..They held to the biblical holidays. (Liechty D. Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs (MI), 1993, pp. 61-62).

Ivor Fletcher reported that some of the American Sabbath-keepers may have kept the Feast of Tabernacles back then:

By 1683 the American churches had realized the need of closer personal contact between the members. With one church at Newport, on an island, and various scattered members on the mainland, they found great difficulty in meeting together as a group.

On October 31 of that year Hubbard wrote to Elder William Gibson, who at the time was living in New London, “O that we could have a general meeting! but winter is coming upon us.”

The first “General Meeting” was held in late May, 1684, shortly after Pentecost. All the brethren in New London, Westerly, Narraganset, Providence, Plymouth Colony and Martha’s Vineyard were invited to attend.

“The object of this meeting was to bring the members, so widely scattered together at a communion season.”

This was the first recorded general meeting of Sabbath-keepers in America. According to Hubbard 26 or 27 people were in attendance. Prayers were given and discussion took place on several doctrinal issues.

“By this time, more members lived on the mainland than at Newport. Sabbath keepers had lived at Westerly since 1666, converts of Mumford. At a yearly meeting of the Church, at Westerly, on September 28, 1708 (New Style), the decision was made to separate into two churches. There were 72 at Westerly and 41 at Newport. (The Feast of Tabernacles for that year started Saturday, September 29.) Previously it was common to hold the yearly meeting at Westerly. Its first elder, John Maxson, was ordained October 1, `by fasting and prayer and laying on of hands.”

There are strong indications that many of these annual meetings took place either during the fall Holy Day season or near Pentecost. Although these people probably had only a limited knowledge of God’s Plan of Salvation, pictured by these days, they were at least attempting to follow the Holy Day pattern that God had ordained.  ( Fletcher I.C. THE INCREDIBLE HISTORY OF GOD’S TRUE CHURCH, Chapter 13. Copyright 1984, by Ivor C. Fletcher. Reprinted in 1995 by Giving & Sharing)

And the Fall Holidays are still observed into the 21st century by many Sabbath-keeping Church of God groups.

Here, according to Dr. Meredith, is some of what it means and how it ties into God’s plan:

After Satan is put away (please see article on The Day of Atonement: Its Christian Significance), the next stage of God’s Plan is the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ as King of kings. This involves Christ and the resurrected saints teaching ALL of humanity the ways of God. It involves the MASSIVE “fall harvest” of saints—the time when everyone then living will finally learn the ways of God and have full opportunity—without Satan’s deceptions—to serve and obey the Creator.

In Leviticus 23:34, God commanded this Festival to ancient Israel, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord.’” So the Feast of Tabernacles was to last seven days. It pictures the seventh millennial day or 1,000-year period of human history—coming just ahead of us. In Leviticus 23, it is called the Feast of Tabernacles or “booths”—to remind Israel that they were “sojourners” in the land. Spiritually it reminds Christians that we are—as our father Abraham—”strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13) looking forward to the Kingdom of God.

But in Exodus 23 we find an autumn Festival described as “the Feast of INGATHERING, which is at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field” (v. 16). So it also pictures and celebrates the great fall harvest in Israel—picturing for Christians the great spiritual harvest of souls to be reaped during the one thousand year reign of Christ!

As we have already seen, at that time the earth will become “full of the knowledge of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:9). And “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.” There will be an outpouring of peace and JOY such as the world has never experienced: “No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain JOY and GLADNESS, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (35:9–10).

The inspired Peter called this period the “times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of ALL His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Indeed, literally scores of prophecies throughout the Old and New Testaments speak of the time of Christ’s return, of all the world coming to understand, and of genuine peace and safety permeating the earth because humanity will be learning God’s righteous LAWS and practicing His entire way of life:

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the LAW, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:2–4).

When the modern Israelites return from their end-time captivity: “They shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations…. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; EVERLASTING JOY shall be theirs” (Isaiah 61:4, 7).

The millennial reign of Christ is definitely the time prophesied by Jeremiah: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put MY LAW in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:31–33).

For God’s magnificent spiritual law, the Ten Commandments, has NEVER been done away! But they have been “magnified” by Jesus Christ and made even more binding, so that we are to keep, not only the letter but the spiritual intent of God’s law. So we do not merely refrain from murder, we refrain from enmity and hate and the attitude of murder (Matthew 5:21–22). We are taught not only to forsake adultery, but not even to “look on” a woman to lust after her! (vv. 27–28).

During the Millennium, God’s laws are to be written in the hearts and minds of His people all over the earth. For God’s laws expresses His very CHARACTER—the character He demands that we develop in order to be kings and priests forever in His Kingdom! This blessing will be afforded ALL MANKIND during the wonderful “Feast of Ingathering,” the 1,000-year reign of Christ here on this earth. Revelation 20 tells us: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (v. 6).

So all true Christians should be preparing NOW to learn and PRACTICE God’s laws and His way of life so that they will be able to TEACH these things to others in Christ’s soon-coming world government. The inspired Apostle Paul admonishes true Christians: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2–3).

Will just the “true Christians” or the Israelites observe the Feast of Tabernacles? Notice Zechariah 14:1–4: “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.” Then read verse 9, “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—‘The Lord is one,’ and His name one.” And read verses 16–19, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of ALL the nations that do not come up to KEEP THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.”

The above verses should make it very clear that ALL nations will learn to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in a very few years under the immediate direction of Jesus Christ. Even the Egyptians, who may at first have resentments against anything “Jewish,” will, learn to OBSERVE the Feast of Tabernacles—and ALL of God’s commanded Festivals” (Meredith RC. The Holy Days – God’s Master Plan. LCG booklet).

If you were not able to observe it this year, perhaps maybe next year?

Three articles of possibly related interest may include:

Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus? Should you?

The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians?

Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2017, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur 🙂

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