The Feast of Tabernacles

Leviticus 23:33‑44  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Distinctive is it to this feast, that it has no antitype. There were three great feasts-the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles; in each of these all the males were to present themselves at Jerusalem. Christ is our Passover; the Holy Ghost is our Pentecost; the feast of Tabernacles is not yet come, and nothing in the history of the people of God as yet answers to it. This feast occurred after the harvest and the vintage: The harvest is the end of the age, the ingathering and judgments of God which distinguish and sever; the vintage is the vintage of the wrath of God on the vine of the earth, whose grapes are ripe for the treading in the winepress of the wrath of God.
The feast of Tabernacles cannot be kept save when Israel, after having traversed the desert, is in the land, in commemoration of which they were wont to pass seven days in tabernacles. Herein we have the joy of the people of God,: it is not merely the joy in our hearts of salvation. but God, whose will it is to have His people around Him, attracts them by the love of Christ (the Passover), gathers them by the Spirit (Pentecost), judges the evil and delivers His people, in order to put them into possession of the joy of that promise (Tabernacles). Deut. 16 gives us these three great feasts, with a difference, however, as to their moral object.
There is, in a certain sense, joy in not being a slave in the land Of Egypt; but then there is, at the same time, the bread of affliction. Precious is it when the means by which God will deliver us are before us; but inseparable therefrom is the thought, that we have been slaves in the land of Egypt. The leavened bread, which has to be put aside, recalls the prohibition; we are in haste; there is deliverance, but after partaking we need to hasten home. The Pentecost goes a little further.
The leading thought in it is joy and grace due to the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; and the name of the Lord is the center of the joy of the people who surround Him. By their very joy, the people are seen to be no longer slaves; this answers to that which is said to us about walking in the Spirit.
In the feast of Tabernacles there is no longer need even to be on one's guard. 'Tis pure joy, and the commandment is "to rejoice." When God has done all for the gathering of His people-when the people are in the enjoyment of all-when Satan, bound, can no longer hinder our joy-the joy will be without mixture, without fear, and without end.
At the Passover there is the bread of affliction; at the Pentecost there is still need to be on one's guard in this world of sin, to observe the commandments; but when we shall be gathered to God we shall be in possession of the promises, and the only commandment is to rejoice.
The child of God is still in the position to remember the bondage of Egypt, and to watch that he may walk in the Spirit. He sighs for the time of the full blessing, and that so much the more, because we more fully understand the things which God has prepared for those that love Him.
When changed, or raised from the dead, the more completely our hearts range abroad, the more will God be glorified. Now joy exposes us to the danger of a fall, if we do not remember our deliverance from Egypt, and if we are not watchful to walk in the Spirit, whilst we are still in the flesh. Rev. 14:15-2015And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. 17And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. (Revelation 14:15‑20) speaks of the harvest and of the vintage of the earth; Isa. 63 speaks of the wine-press of the wrath of God; Matt. 13 shows that the harvest is the end of the age: there is not merely judgment but gathering, separation of the tares from the good grain. The vintage takes place when that which remains is decidedly bad, and is trodden in the press of the wrath and indignation of God. It is after this that the fullness of the joy of the people of God takes place, when the evil which prevents us enjoying the goodness of God has been destroyed. Music and singing come after the judgments, and the deliverance of the earth laid waste by sin.
The trumpets in the Apocalypse are the trumpets of woe; the seventh in the Apocalypse is followed by songs of triumph. The feast of Tabernacles is divided into two parts-glory terrestrial, and glory celestial. It will become Israel to remember that it has been in the desert. As for us, it is not sin which keeps us in the wilderness, it is Christ-it is our portion as being partakers of the sufferings and of the death of Christ. If death comes there will be naught but joy, if we walk faithfully in the wilderness. Such is our position. And it is on this account that there is added to the feast of Tabernacles an eighth day, commencement of a new week, into which we must enter by resurrection. The joy was obligatory; the great day of the feast all were there. It is something over and above the seven days which God gives to the earth, and it enters into a state of things into which resurrection alone introduces. John gives us a commentary on this. It was not yet time for Christ to show Himself to the world; that will take place when He shall appear at the true feast of Tabernacles. His brethren represent the unbelieving Jews. Later He goes up to the feast privately; but the great day, the eighth day, He shows Himself openly, figure of what was to take place by means of His death and resurrection.
He proclaims the river of living water for those who shall believe-He proclaims grace to whosoever thirsts. It was concerning the reception of the Holy Ghost, who is the earnest of that heavenly glory into which Jesus was about to enter, of which He spake.
The Holy Spirit is the witness in our hearts of that glory of man-of the Son of Man-seal in our souls, earnest of the inheritance which is given to us while waiting for the full manifestation of the glory. It is not merely the Holy Spirit as the principle of Life that is given in John 3, but a river which overflows on every side of us, because we have the knowledge of that joy and of that glory which belongs to us. This it is which makes us sigh after the time when such things shall be ours, and when we shall enjoy, in liberty, all the fruits of grace.
To the Christian, death is ceasing from death, dying is ceasing to die. Here death surrounds me on every side, in every form, and I am dying daily; but this ceases to me at death. Then I leave all that into which death and dying can enter, and I go there, where all is life. True, I shall not have my resurrection-body then, but absent from the body and present with the Lord, I shall be there where life is, and where life fills all according to its measure.