Feast of Tabernacles

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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. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it.” —Leviticus 23:34-35

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. —Isaiah 2:2-3

OBJECTIVE

To teach that the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the 1,000-year reign of the Kingdom of God over the earth.

Note to parents

We encourage you to read through this material with your children to provide an overview of the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles and what it pictures. Then choose appropriate materials from the supplemental pages that you feel will be helpful in teaching and reinforcing the meaning of the Feast.

Under righteous leadership, the world will quickly begin to change for the better.

THE MEANING OF THE FESTIVAL

The sixth festival in God’s holy day cycle is the Feast of Tabernacles. This seven-day festival pictures and looks forward to the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth, often referred to as “the Millennium” or “the world tomorrow.” Under the supreme authority of God the Father, Jesus Christ will be King over all the earth, and His law—the law of God—will be taught and practiced.

After Jesus Christ has returned to the earth, taken over rulership and banished Satan, God will replace human leaders with the resurrected saints who will then have charge of the earth (Luke 19:17; Revelation 20:4). Under righteous leadership, the world will quickly begin to change for the better. This will happen because God’s way will be taught all over the world to people who will then be teachable and want to do as God says (Isaiah 11:9).

We are told that the nature of the animals will also be changed so that a lamb can live in peace with a wolf, without fear of being attacked.

The world will change for the better. The nation of Israel will be the first to set an example of obedience to God’s statutes and laws. Other nations will quickly want to learn how Israel is pleasing God so they can do the same (Micah 4:1-2). They will want to please God so they can also enjoy the blessings that come from obedience. Ultimately all nations of the world will journey to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16). Nations will send representatives to worship God and be instructed in His law. As they learn to obey God and practice His ways, the veil that has covered their eyes will be lifted and God’s laws will be written upon their minds and hearts (Jeremiah 31:33; 2 Corinthians 3:14-16).

This change of heart will bring about universal peace, because war, motivated by selfishness, will disappear. Nations who hated and attacked each other will then live together in peace and turn their war machines into farming tools (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). We are told that the nature of the animals will also be changed so that a lamb can live in peace with a wolf, without fear of being attacked (Isaiah 11:6). A small child will not be in danger of losing his or her life from the bite of a poisonous snake (verse 8). There will be peace at every level: personal, local, national and international!

When we keep the Feast of Tabernacles, we picture the miraculous transformation that all of creation will experience under the millennial rule of Jesus Christ.

Living by God’s laws will also bring about great prosperity. Prosperity means that everyone will have plenty to eat and a good place to live. This condition of plenty is symbolized by the passage, “But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4). Crops will grow as never before, yielding great amounts of healthful foods in abundance (Jeremiah 31:12; Amos 9:13).

Just like the transformation that will take place within people, the physical creation will also experience dramatic change. Deserts will burst forth with life (Isaiah 35:1). God will remove the curse that is upon the land so that the hard, unproductive dirt will become tillable and produce fruit in abundance.

People with injured arms and legs will be healed so that someone who couldn’t walk before will be able to “leap like a deer.”

Along with the healing of the earth will come the healing of people. Ailments and disabilities, such as blindness and deafness, will be healed. People with injured arms and legs will be healed so that someone who couldn’t walk before will be able to “leap like a deer” (Isaiah 35:5-6). The curses that bring about sickness in the body will be removed as people learn to obey God and His law. Good health will be available to all people.

When we keep the Feast of Tabernacles, we picture the miraculous transformation that all of creation will experience under the millennial rule of Jesus Christ. God asks us to leave our homes and go to the place He has chosen to keep the Feast. This pictures the nations that come up to Jerusalem after Christ’s return to learn God’s way.

Those who are resurrected at Christ’s return will experience the unique opportunity to work with Him to help all nations learn the way of God and build a relationship with Him. We keep the Feast of Tabernacles with purpose, preparing for the job that lies ahead: teaching others God’s way in the world tomorrow.

SCRIPTURE DISCUSSION POINTS

You can use the following guided discussion topics to stimulate dialogue about the Feast of Tabernacles. As you discuss these concepts, be mindful of the maturity level of your children and adjust the discussion based on their level of personal development.

Feast of Tabernacles observance commanded

Fifteenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:33-35, 39-43)

  • Explain the difference between the calendar we use today and the biblical calendar.
  • Review the five previous festivals and their meanings:
    • Passover, a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins
    • Feast of Unleavened Bread, a seven-day festival that reminds us of our need to turn from sin and obey God’s laws
    • Feast of Pentecost, a festival that reminds us of the necessity of God’s Holy Spirit for the overcoming of sin
    • Feast of Trumpets, a festival that depicts Jesus Christ’s return to establish the Kingdom of God and the moment of the first resurrection
    • Day of Atonement, a festival that depicts God’s reconciliation with all of humanity 
  • Remind your children that these are the feasts of the Lord, the Sabbaths of the Lord. God has set aside these special times for humanity to learn about Him and His plan (Leviticus 23:2, 37).
  • Explain and define convocation: “a calling together; a group of people formally assembled for a special purpose.”
  • Explain that “Feast of Ingathering” is another name given to this specific festival (Exodus 23:16; 34:22). It has also traditionally been called the “Feast of Booths.”
  • Explain that dwelling in tabernacles or booths (temporary housing):
    • Reminds us that ancient Israel dwelled in booths in the wilderness before they entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 8).
    • Teaches us that this world is only temporary and that we are future heirs of the Kingdom of God (Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50).
    • Symbolizes that the millennial period, represented by the Feast of Tabernacles, is temporary (Revelation 20:3, 7-9).

We must carefully follow the clear instructions God has provided regarding any day’s observance—whether a holy day or not.

Celebrate the Feast for seven days (Deuteronomy 16:13-15)

  • Explain that the Feast of Tabernacles is a seven-day festival. The first day of the seven is a holy day.
  • Explain the difference between a “festival” and a “holy day.” Discuss how the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles both contain days that are not holy days. We must carefully follow the clear instructions God has provided regarding any day’s observance—whether a holy day or not.
  • Explain that all seven days are set apart as the Feast of Tabernacles, but only the first day is a holy day. Emphasize that we are commanded to observe all seven days of this feast. How do you observe a day within a commanded festival that is not holy? What will you be talking about? What will you be thinking about?
  • Explain that we keep the Feast “in the place which He [God] chooses” (verse 16). Where is the place the Lord has already chosen for the keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium? (See Zechariah 14:16.) Find Jerusalem on a map.
  • Notice that God’s blessing will cause us to “surely rejoice” (verse 15). Talk about the feelings of joy and excitement that are experienced when we are observing a festival of God. (See Nehemiah 8:17-18.)
  • Emphasize that God expects everyone to attend the entire Feast. As God’s people, we bear responsibility to do what we can to assist others in attending the Feast of Tabernacles.

Christ and the apostles kept the Feast of Tabernacles

Christ observed the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:1-18)

  • Explain that Christ instructed his brothers to travel ahead of Him to attend the festival.
  • Emphasize that Christ was present at the beginning of the Feast, even though He came quietly, behind the scenes. He did not reveal His presence until the middle of the Feast observance.
  • Notice that everyone knew that Christ would be at the Feast.
  • Emphasize that the authorities were looking for Christ, yet He obeyed the command of God and still went to the Feast regardless of the danger (John 7:1, 11).
  • Explain that Christ taught openly in the middle of the Feast, proclaiming that all of His teachings were from the Father (John 7:28-29).

Christ left us an example (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6)

  • Explain that Christ always set the example of what we should do. When we observe the weekly Sabbath and annual holy days, we are following the example of Jesus Christ.
  • Explain that Christ did not follow the incorrect traditions of the elders; He followed God’s laws.

Paul observed the Feast of Tabernacles (Acts 18:21)

  • Point out that some translations incorrectly omit “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem.”

Paul instructed us to follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)

  • Explain and define imitate: “to follow” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
  • Explain that Paul instructed us to imitate him as he imitated Christ (also 1 Corinthians 4:16).
  • Emphasize that Christ kept the Feast. Paul imitated Christ, so he kept the Feast. Therefore, we should imitate Christ (like Paul did) and keep the Feast too.

Establishment of the government of God

God the Father is supreme (John 5:19, 36; 7:16; 8:28)

  • Explain that Christ performs God’s will.
  • Explain that Christ’s authority has been given to Him from God the Father.
  • Explain that God sent Christ to this earth to proclaim God’s message.
  • Explain that God and Christ are in complete agreement on all things.

The Lord shall be King (Zechariah 14:9)

  • Emphasize that Christ will rule all the earth (Psalm 22:27-28).
  • Ask, Who gives Christ the authority to rule and teach the nations? (See Luke 1:32-33.)

The throne of the Lord (Jeremiah 3:17)

  • Explain that God’s throne is in heaven (Matthew 5:34), and Christ’s throne will be on earth.
  • Where will Christ’s throne be located? Locate Jerusalem on a map.

The throne of David (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24)

  • Explain that David will rule from the city of Jerusalem under Christ’s authority.
  • Explain that Jerusalem will be the model city that all nations will follow.

The thrones of the 12 apostles (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:28-30)

  • Explain that the apostles will sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • Emphasize that God’s government will be orderly (1 Corinthians 14:33).
  • Explain that the law of God will be the basis of how people will live.

Explain that God’s truth will spread forth from Jerusalem and eventually cover the entire world.

The saints reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4, 6)

  • Explain that we refer to this 1,000-year period as “the Millennium.”
  • Explain that the phrase “over such the second death has no power” (verse 6) indicates the saints will be spirit beings who have immortal life.
  • Explain that all who rule with Christ and administer His law will be spirit beings.
  • Explain the varied responsibilities the saints will be given. They will be priests, kings, judges and rulers (1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 5:10).
  • What is the role of a priest? (See Malachi 2:7.)

The law will go forth from Zion (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:2)

  • Explain that the commandments, statutes and ordinances that God established from the foundation of the earth will be enforced. People will observe the 10 Commandments, the food laws, the holy days, and so on.
  • Discuss how different the world will be when God’s law is followed (Psalm 119:165).
  • Explain that God’s truth will spread forth from Jerusalem and eventually cover the entire world (Habakkuk 2:14).
  • Explain that every kingdom must possess four elements:
    • A ruler: Who will rule during the Millennium?
    • A territory: Where will the Millennium be established?
    • Laws: Which laws will guide and direct humanity?
    • Citizens: Who will be living during the Millennium?
  • Discuss each of these necessary elements with your child. How will each of these components be fulfilled in the coming Kingdom of God? Download the supplement “Components of a Kingdom” which will help you study and discuss this concept.

All of humanity will come to understand the blessing of serving and worshipping the one true God.

The increase of Christ’s government and peace will have no end (Isaiah 9:6-7)

  • Explain that the Kingdom of God will remain forever; it will continue to grow (Luke 1:33).
  • Emphasize that the Kingdom of God will be a righteous government (Psalm 96:10-13).

What will happen to the gentile nations during the Millennium?

Refusal to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Isaiah 60:12; Zechariah 14:16-19)

  • Explain that this will be the beginning stage of the nations learning obedience to God. They will quickly learn the importance of worshipping the true God. Some may have to suffer punishment to help them to change.

Christ will rule with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27; 19:15)

  • Explain that initially the gentile nations will need to be corrected and forced to obey Christ’s authority on earth.

Gentile nations will serve Israel (Isaiah 60:5, 11, 16; 61:5-6)

  • Explain that Israel will receive great wealth from the hands of the gentiles.
  • Explain that Israel will inherit the world’s wealth due to obedience to God.
  • Explain that Israel’s main focus will be teaching God’s ways to the other nations.

All nations will come to learn God’s way ( Micah 4:1-5)

  • Explain that eventually the nations of the world will learn God’s way and will freely submit to God and Christ (Psalm 86:9).
  • Emphasize that the weekly Sabbath and annual festivals will be observed during the Millennium. All of humanity will come to understand the blessing of serving and worshipping the one true God (Isaiah 66:23).

Changes to the physical creation

The Mount of Olives split in two ( Zechariah 14:4, 8)

  • Explain that this deep ravine will provide the channel for a mighty river to provide healing waters.
  • Look at a map and find Jerusalem. The eastward flow of the river will empty into the Dead Sea and the westward flow into the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Compare the law of God and living waters going forth from Jerusalem. Both provide necessary spiritual and physical healing (Ezekiel 47:1-12; Revelation 7:17).
  • Explain that Christ’s return will initiate the restoration of all things (Acts 3:19-21).

Healing of the area around Zion (Isaiah 51:3)

  • Explain that “Mount Zion” or “Zion” is often used to represent Jerusalem.
  • What do you think the Garden of Eden looked like?
  • Draw a picture of what Mount Zion might look like once this scripture is fulfilled.

Healing of the land (Isaiah 55:13)

  • Explain that God will remove the curse that is currently upon the land because of humanity’s disobedience (Genesis 3:17-18).

Tremendous increase (Isaiah 30:23-24; 35:1-2, 6-7)

  • Contrast this lush time to current drought conditions and unproductive land.
  • Discuss the importance of the water that will be flowing from Jerusalem.
  • Draw a picture of the desert blossoming like a rose.
  • Discuss the abundance that will pour forth with God’s blessing upon His physical creation (Amos 9:13).

Change in the nature of animals (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25)

  • Discuss the enjoyment that will come from interacting with all the animals.
  • Visit a zoo and discuss the changes that each animal will experience.
  • What animal do you think will make the best pet?
  • Draw a picture of you and your “new pet” in God’s Kingdom.

A covenant of peace (Ezekiel 34:25-31; Hosea 2:18)

  • Explain and define covenant: “an agreement between two parties.” When God makes a covenant, it is equal to an everlasting promise. Since God is perfect, He is always faithful and will fulfill His covenant with humanity (Joshua 21:43-45).
  • Work your way through each verse, noting all the change that will occur. Take time to marvel at God’s absolute power and authority over His creation.

Changes to humanity

Physical healing (Isaiah 29:18; 32:3-4; 35:5-6)

  • Discuss the complete joy that those who have endured physical and mental disabilities will experience upon being healed.

Spiritual healing (Isaiah 25:7; 42:16, 18)

  • Discuss the blessing it is to know and understand God’s plan for humanity.
  • Explain that God’s chosen and elect will be working with Jesus Christ to teach humanity God’s truth.

War will cease (Isaiah 2:3-4; Micah 4:3)

  • Discuss how large amounts of human resources go toward developing weapons for war and protection from enemies today. Contrast how humanity will use its ingenuity for good during the Kingdom (Isaiah 61:4).
  • Discuss the physical, mental, emotional, financial and spiritual destruction war has heaped upon humanity.

Spiritual training and knowledge readily available (Isaiah 30:19-22)

  • Explain that people will be trained within the safety and confines of God’s law.
  • Emphasize the tremendous spiritual, emotional and mental blessings that will be received by knowing and living God’s way of life.

His laws in their minds (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

  • Explain that God’s way of life will cause dramatic changes in people’s thinking and actions. God will reshape, remold and refashion people’s minds and hearts.

A new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-28)

  • Contrast a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Contrast being stubborn to being teachable. Contrast being rebellious to being willing to listen and learn.
  • Explain that there will be a gradual change in humanity: hostility toward God and His perfect laws will steadily change to obedience and love.
  • What is the new spirit? Review the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
  • Explain that God’s Holy Spirit will be available to those physical beings living during the Millennium (Joel 2:28-29).

And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

Stories related to the Feast of Tabernacles

God places His presence in the temple, in 2 Chronicles 5; 7:1-12; 1 Kings 8: After Solomon’s prayer of dedication, “the glory of the LORD filled the temple” (2 Chronicles 7:1). No longer did God dwell in a tabernacle among His people (Exodus 25:8); now His presence resided in the temple. Solomon then led all of Israel in keeping the Feast of Tabernacles and ordered the reinstatement of the offerings (2 Chronicles 8:12-15). Living in the Promised Land, receiving rest from their enemies, following God’s laws, and abiding in the presence of God, Israel (during this limited period of time) typified the coming of the Kingdom of God.

After captivity, Israel builds booths for the Feast of Tabernacles, in Ezra 3:4; Nehemiah 8:13-18: Ezra read the law of God to the people. This led to the restoration of the holy days and the keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles in booths: “So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner” (verses 17-18). God blessed Israel for their repentance and obedience.

Parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27: Jesus Christ provided a parable to illustrate that God grants every individual different abilities and talents. We are all responsible to develop those gifts and abilities for the glory of God. One day, each of us will judged based upon our individual efforts and increase: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10).

Parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19: Jesus Christ provided an analogy comparing the coming Kingdom of God to a mustard seed, illustrating how something small—like the mustard seed—gradually expands and becomes something larger. Likewise, the Kingdom of God will start small and gradually fill the entire earth (Isaiah 9:7; Habakkuk 2:14).

Memory Verse

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. —Habakkuk 2:14

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