Camping with God: The Sukkot Feast and Why Its Important
by Pastor Greg Stone
Several years ago, I did something you might think is strange. I spent a week sleeping in a tent to celebrate Sukkot, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. Traditionally, Jews around the world spend the seven days and nights of this festival in tabernacles (or tents) to remember what it was like for their ancestors to be in the wilderness and to celebrate God’s provision. In fact, God instructed Jews to do so in Leviticus 23, and we’ve been celebrating this feast for thousands of years. It’s the biggest of all the feasts celebrated in Judaism, and it holds a great deal of significance for us as Christians.
The key to understanding why it’s so important is in the name: the Feast of Tabernacles. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, ….” The Greek word for “dwelt” is eskēnōsen, which means tabernacle. So if we read it as “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us,” it means Sukkot is all about being with God and beholding His glory.
There’s another interesting element hidden in plain sight in the book of John. Much of the book takes place during a particular Sukkot festival. It’s almost as if John is saying, “I’m going to tell you a story focused on the Feast of Tabernacles.” On the last day of the festival, during the traditional water-pouring ceremony, a priest offers water to the Lord and thanks Him for taking the Israelites out of the dry and thirsty wilderness. It’s a big ceremony and the entire city is there to celebrate. Then, in John 7:37, Jesus stood and shouted, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” He did a similar thing in John 8:12. After a special ceremony, where four massive candelabras were lit so brightly they illuminated the city, Jesus said, “‘I am the light of the world.’”
Some people heard Him and thought He was a lunatic. Some thought He was a prophet while others believed He was the Messiah. But when we look back, we can see that He was really saying, this is all about Me.
Sukkot takes on even deeper significance for us when we look at it in the context of the Passover and Pentecost feasts. The Passover feast comes first in the calendar year, and it’s when the Last Supper took place. Jesus left the Last Supper and went to the cross. He died and rose again. Because of this, we can see that Passover is all about the Son setting us free. The Pentecost feast comes next in the calendar year, and it was the day that God sent the Holy Spirit to mold us into the image of Jesus and empower us to live worshipful lives. Here we can see that Pentecost is all about the Holy Spirit. And finally, because of John 1:14, we can see that Sukkot is all about us dwelling with the Father. Take a look at the order of these events: First Jesus sets us free, then the Holy Spirit empowers us, and finally we dwell with the Father. These feasts are a picture of God’s plan to reconcile with mankind.
So as we approach Sukkot this year (October 4–11), even if you don’t celebrate it by spending a week in a tent, I want to encourage you to take some time to dwell with God.
As I reflect on the week I did sleep in a tent for Sukkot, I remember the joy I felt. I did normal things at home with my family and we ate dinner together indoors, but afterward I went outside to my tent while everyone else went to bed inside the house. I still remember the first night. I rested on my small cot and noticed something peculiar. I was smiling. Though no one else was around, I was not alone in that tent.
Greg Stone is the pastor of Jewish Ministry. For more information, visit jewish.gatewaypeople.com .
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The 15th day of the 7th month is the start of Sukkot / the Feast of Tabernacles. Sukkot is a 7 day feast in which we are commanded to dwell in booths. But who actually is commanded to dwell in booths (sukkot) during this moed, this appointed time, and why?
[Note: The Hebrew Calendar is created each spring after the aviv moon is sighted. The 7th month new moon was seen in Israel on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 11th. Sukkot then, will fall on Wednesday, Sept. 26th and begin the evening before.]
Sukkot is for Israel
Yehovah’s holy nation, Israel, are made up of two groups of men. The first is the Ger, commonly translated as “stranger.” The Ger has repented [this repentance process is the circumcision of the heart], left the country of his birth and joined himself to the Ezrach , commonly translated as “one born in the land” or “native-born“.
The Ezrach were also Ger at one time. Each year at Passover the Ger has two choices; get circumcised in the flesh, eat the slaughtered Passover and become as one born in the land or leave Israel and have his sins remain on him . Sounds like a “no brainer” huh, but so many love the doctrines and traditions of men more than Yehovah’s plain word and ways.
Together these two groups comprise Yehovah’s currently “invisible nation” and what I like to refer to as “ true Israel .” They keep only the Father’s statutes, judgments and ordinances and follow no other elohim (law makers of judges) but Yehovah.
“But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says my Master Yehovah, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live? ( Eze 18:21-23 )
But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of Yehovah at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin. ‘And if a stranger [Ger] dwells among you, and would keep Yehovah’s Passover, he must do so according to the rite of the Passover and according to its ceremony; you shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger[Ger] and the native of the land [Ezrach].’ ” (Num 9:13-14)
One law shall be for the native-born [Ezrach] and for the stranger [Ger] who dwells among you.” (Exo 12:49)
At Sukkot, Only Israel’s Seed Dwell In Booths
I have gone through all this because I want you to read carefully and understand the last three verses of Leviticus 23 says about Israel’s Sukkot instructions.
You shall dwell in booths (sukkot) for seven days. All who are native [Ezrach] to Israel shall dwell in booths (sukkot) , that your generations may know that I made Israel’s seed [a.k.a “the children of Israel,” a.k.a. “the sons of Israel,” a.k.a. “my son, Israel,” a.k.a. “Israel’s son”] dwell in booths (sukkot) when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am Yehovah your Elohim.’ ” So Moses declared to Israel’s seed the feasts of Yehovah. (Lev 23:42-44)
Notice: The native-born (Ezrach) of Israel are Israel’s seed, and the heirs of Abraham as well, and they are all men! Becoming Ezrach of Israel is what my “ Born Again ” series is all about. All Yehovah’s feast instructions are for Israel’s seed; look at the last verse of Leviticus 23.
So Moses declared to Israel’s seed the feasts of Yehovah. (Lev 23:44)
Sukkot Has An 8th Day Attached To It
Sukkot begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month is actually an eight-day feast but Yehovah commands the Ezrach, Israel’s seed, to dwell in booths (sukkot) for only seven days as seen above.
‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of Yehovah for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. (Lev 23:39)
During Sukkot Israel’s seed dwells in booths for only seven days, but Yehovah added a day, for holy convocation, to it. Could this be a shadow picture of how Yehovah’s righteous men with their families (and perhaps their servants) are to dwell on the earth for 7000 years? Remember what Peter said,
But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment [the end of the final millennium] and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with Yehovah one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Yehovah is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2Pe 3:7-9)
Sukkot – Big Picture
I think that by having Israel’s seed dwells in tents, or other temporary coverings during Sukkot, Yehovah is giving Israel a practical demonstration of how His Ezrach, His set apart men live/dwell all year-long and how Yehovah’s righteous men have been dwelling since the beginning of time (the last 6,000 years). We will dwell the same way throughout the millennial kingdom as well. We must learn to dwell in earth , as if in a strange country. This is how Noah, Shem, Eber, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and countless others have dwelt throughout time.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is Elohim. (Heb 11:8-10)
These all died in faith [faithfully keeping Yehovah’s ways], not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth [they dwelt in heaven]. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind the country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desired a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore Elohim is not ashamed to be called their Elohim, for He has prepared a city for them. (Heb 11:13-16)
So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was an upright man , dwelling in tents . [“tents,” Jacob dwelt under Yehovah’s authority – I like to call it dwelling under Yehovah’s “the big-top”] (Gen 25:27)
Is it possible that the reason we only dwell in coverings for seven days is because after the final millennium (1000 years) there will be a new heaven and a new earth and at that time everyone will be under the direct authority of the Creator? I think so, and because of what I have seen here I plan to return home on the morning of the 7th day of the feast. That way I will only be dwelling in a sukkah (temporary covering) for only the seven days and be back home in time for the day of rest.
You shall dwell in booths (sukkot) for seven days. All who are native [Ezrach] to Israel shall dwell in booths (sukkot) , that your generations may know that I made Israel’s seed dwell in booths (sukkot) when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am Yehovah your Elohim [Your lawmaker and judge].’ “(Lev 23:42)
Sukkot – What Do These Booths Look Like?
In Part 2 – What is a Sukkah? I discuss what these “booths,” or “covering,” in which Israel’s seed are to dwell, actually are. It is a temporary dwelling place designed to keep the Ezrach protected from the elements and predators. We will see that the construction of the coverings was not the important part of Yehovah’s plan, it was how we dwelt in them, that is. We dwell in them as if only a short time. This also is how we, who have left the kingdoms of our birth (mine was the corporation of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA), now dwell on the earth; we dwell on earth as in a heavenly country just as Abraham dwelt in the land of Canaan.
Sukkot – Only Israel’s Seed Dwells In Temporary Coverings
Right now Yehovah is “looking for a few good men.” These men, because of the new birth, are virgins and follow only one Elohim (one law-maker and judge), unlike the rest of the world. The covering over these men is what the rehearsal we do at Sukkot each year is all about. Only Israel’s seed dwells in temporary coverings. This is the topic of Part 3 – Cover Israel / Chuppah Israel .
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- Noah, Shem, Abram Nimrod
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- Jacob’s last words
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- Joseph Ruled Egypt for 80 Years
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- Joseph’s brothers are found
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- A new king in Egypt
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- “She is my sister” – Genesis 20
- Two Witnesses Mark The Beginning Of The End
- Sins of Sodom And Our World Today
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- Tower Of Babel
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- Michael Didier on Does God Hear Prayer?
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You shall hold a festival for the LORD your God seven days, in the place that the LORD will choose; for the LORD your God will bless all your crops and all your undertakings, and you shall have nothing but joy.
TNK Deuteronomy 16:15
Feast of Tabernacles
Season of Our Joy is a ‘Hebrew Roots’ observance of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. For eight days we praise YHVH through our actions – prayer, song and dance, Bible study, feasting and fellowship. We hear from gifted speakers who teach us the ways and walk of YHVH, our Father, and who teach us the meaning of this very special time of year referred to by the ancient Jewish sages as “the Season of Our JOY”.
SOOJ is held at the Camp Shiloh Retreat just a few miles from Mount Pleasant in Northeast Texas. It is observed in accordance with the traditional Jewish calendar beginning Sunday evening, September 23 and continuing through October 1.
We welcome you to share the festival with us!
Below, you will find information pertaining to all aspects of SOOJ. Contact us for more information.
Registration Begins in Early February
The Feast of Tabernacles is the major festival of the Hebrew fall harvest season. It pictures the Messianic Kingdom, when Yeshua (Jesus) will reign in Jerusalem and all the nations will come up to worship Him. Because it falls in the season of the final harvest, it hints of the final ‘harvest’ of souls when God’s spirit will be poured out all mankind and they will turn to Him and walk in His ways.
Season of Our Joy is a ‘structured’ festival site
with daily scheduled activities including teaching sessions, praise through song and dance, family and group events and games, and late afternoon group meals. Most evenings are left ‘open’ for fellowship and midrash.
One of the highlights of each year’s festival is the re-enactment of the 1st century ‘Water Pouring Ceremony’ which took place in the Temple on each day of the festival.
As a ‘Hebrew Roots’ festival site, SOOJ solicits teachers and speakers who believe and
teach that 1) both the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Testaments are applicable to
today’s people of God and 2) that Yeshua (Jesus)
is the promised Messiah who died for the
sins of His people.
If you would like to speak at
this year’s festival, give us a call and we’ll talk about it!
We are Israel! (Gal. 3:29) … and
being a part of Israel means being associated with one
of the twelve Israelite tribes. At Season of Our Joy we
illustrate that point by assigning everyone a part in one of the twelve ‘tribes’, then grouping those tribes into
‘camps’. Each ‘camp’ plays a part in ensuring that
everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the festival by
helping out with the ‘chores’ and through friendly
Camp Shiloh Retreat is located on a 25 acre campus
overlooking beautiful Lake Bob Sandlin. It is near the
picturesque towns of Mount Pleasant, Pittsburg,
Winnsboro, and Mount Vernon in north-east Texas. The
camp has a private entrance with only one road in and
out and is well suited for our 8-day Sukkot festival.
Outdoor activities at Camp Shiloh include various water
activities as well as ga-ga ball, softball, and
tetherball. Housing includes cabins, suites, RV spots
and areas for tent camping.
Secure housing through
SOOJ. Go to the Housing page.
Register with SOOJ online , then secure housing through
SOOJ via phone (contact info is on the Housing page).
Registration is FREE
must register to attend.