Today is called in the Biblical calendar “Hoshana Raba”, meaning the Day of Great Salvation. In Hebrew Salvation doesn’t just mean saved from this earth for an eternal home. It means salvation to every area of one’s life. Salvation to your health, to your finances, to your relationships, to your future, to your ministry, to your business, and to your family. It is the Day according to Deuteronomy 16:16 when all of Israel would come to Jerusalem to give their Feast of Tabernacles offering. Tens of thousands would gather at the Temple Mound for the Feast of Tabernacles to bring their offering to the High Priest. The richness and mysterious of this feast have not been taught or seen since we have lost the Jewishness of your Savior, Yeshua. There are way to many symbolism and mysteries to tell in just one blog. But I want to give you glimpse of at least two or three on this great day. This is the final day of the Seven Day Feast called Tabernacles found in Deut. 16 and Lev. 23.
The Gospels record that our Lord Jesus not only celebrated this festival, but He took traditional elements of the celebration and applied them to His own life and mission. We find this particularly in John 7 and 8 where Jesus uses two traditional symbols from the Feast of Tabernacles celebration, water and light, to help the people understand who He is and what He offers.
John 7:37-38, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy[h] Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
To mark this special day in Israel. The most spectacular of these was the water drawing ceremony. Imagine a whole parade of worshipers and flutists led by the priest to the pool of Siloam (where) Jesus told the blind man to bathe his eyes after He put clay over them. The priest have two pitchers. The silver one is for wine (represents covenant) and the gold one He fills with water (represents abundance) from the pool. As the flutes continue to play, a choir of Israelites chants Psalm 118 from the pool of Siloam to the Temple. The whole procession heads back to the Temple through the Water Gate. A trumpet sounds as the priest enters the Temple area. He approaches the altar where a silver and gold basins are waiting. He pours wine into one of the basins as a drink offering to the Lord and water from the pool of Siloam into the other.
The whole ceremony, with the parade and the flutes and the singing, was such a joyful occasion that one of the ancient rabbis wrote: “Anyone who has not seen this water ceremony has never seen rejoicing in his life. “The ceremony was to thank God for His bounty and to ask Him to provide rain for the crops in the coming year.” Today, many people take water for granted. We simply turn the tap and voilà—water! Not so in the Middle East during the first century. Water was often scarce. The people were very much aware of their dependence on God for the rains that were so vital for the preservation of life. No wonder the prophets came to see rain as a symbol of salvation and the work of God’s Holy Spirit: I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean… (Ezekiel 36:25).
No wonder then that Jesus stood in the Temple on this great day of the feast and cried out: If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:37-38).
The Apostle John commented on this speech in verse 39. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. As the rain falls to nourish the crops, so the Ruach ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit, falls upon those who have identified with Jesus in His death and resurrection. It is that Spirit that refreshes us, and causes us to grow in grace and in faith. It is that Spirit that allows us to experience Immanuel, God with us. That Spirit is available to us today and every day.
Yeshua’s promise to give mayim chayim, living water, prompted even greater discussion and debate during the last day of the festival of Sukkot. The leaders grew angry because the Temple guards refused their order to arrest Jesus. Even when one of their own, Nicodemus, came to Jesus’ defense, they still dismissed His claims saying, “A prophet does not come out of Galilee.” Apparently, those leaders had forgotten about Isaiah chapter 9:
There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; of those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:1-2).
And that brings us to the next Sukkot symbol that Jesus used to point to Himself as the fulfillment of Scripture. God had indeed promised that a great light would shine out of Galilee. Yeshua reminded His critics of that powerful and prophetic claim, by using an image that would have been very fresh in the memories of all who heard. Light.
You see, at the end of the first day of the Feast, the Temple was gloriously illuminated. According to the Mishnah (part of the oral tradition of the rabbis), gigantic candelabras stood within the court of the women. Each of the four golden candelabras is said to have been 50 cubits high. A cubit is somewhere between 18 and 22 inches, so we’re talking about candelabras that were about 75 feet tall! Each candelabra had four branches, and at the top of every branch there was a large bowl. Four young men bearing 10 gallon pitchers of oil would climb ladders to fill the four golden bowls on each candelabra. And then the oil in those bowls was ignited.
Picture sixteen beautiful blazes leaping toward the sky from these golden lamps. Remember that the Temple was on a hill above the rest of the city, so the glorious glow was a sight for the entire city to see. In addition to the light, Levitical musicians played their harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets to make joyful music to the Lord. What a glorious celebration! The light was to remind the people of how God’s Shekinah glory had once filled His Temple. But in the person of Jesus, God’s glory was once again present in that Temple. And He used that celebration to announce that very fact. He was teaching in the court of women just after the Feast, perhaps standing right next to those magnificent candelabras when He declared to all who were gathered there, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).” Many refused to have their own darkness exposed by that light. Traditionally at this Feast the Priest would sacrifice 70 Bulls representing the nations of the world to be delivered and come into God’s Kingdom and 98 Lambs would be sacrificed so that the 98 curses found in the Old Testament would be done away with on this Great Day of Salvation.
The final Sukkot Symbol and Mystery is found in the Marriage Covenant. The three feast of Tabernacles, Rosh Hashanah represents the Second Coming of Yeshua. The feast of Yom Kippur represents the Great White Judgment. And the last is the Feast of Sukkot (booth) and actually is a picture of the Marriage Chuppah is a covering of Covenant.
The ancient Hebrew Marriage holds a revelation. In order to be a marriage the Bride Groom had to always make a journey from His house to the Bride’s house. Then in the house of the Bride, He would have to pledge himself and give a costly treasure to set her free from her house. They then would seal the betrothal by drinking the cup of wine together which represented covenant. Then the groom would go back to his house and prepare a home for her. They would be separated for some time. She would prepare herself for him and him for her. Then the great Wedding day would come a year later with a great procession where the Bride Groom dresses as a King with his men dressed in formal attire with torches at night coming to the Bride. He would come to her remove her vale and they would see each other face to face. He then would carry her away with a great procession to His house. There they would celebrate the Wedding Feast for many days. The great mystery her is that Yeshua is the Bride Groom and those who are born into His family through confession and repentance are the Bride. In order for this to happen the Bride Groom must make the journey. So 2000 years ago Yeshua journeyed from His house Heaven to our house earth. He journeyed from His house knocks on our door and let him in. He has produced a very costly treasure and it was his life, death, and resurrection to Betroth us. Then the Bride and Groom shared a cup. He shared a cup with us. The Bride has to go to His Father’s house, John 14:23, I will prepare a place for you. When it is ready I will return to you and come again. We are now in the great separation being betrothed to Yeshua waiting for coming again. Once He comes he will take us His bride to His home and there we will experience the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
The Great Assembly would chant together on this day, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” From this day forward one could expect to walk in great joy and blessing. May God’s divine mysterious be evident in your life this final day of the Feast of Tabernacles.