All scripture is from the KJV unless otherwise indicated.
Scripture Reference: Exodus 23:14-19, Leviticus 23:33-43, Deuteronomy 16:13-17.
This Feast of Yahweh is celebrated in the fall of the year. The Hebrew word for “tabernacle” is “sukkuh”. In means booth, hut, pavilion or tent. The plural of this word is sukkot. So, the correct Hebrew name for the Feast is Sukkot. It is also known as: Feast of Booths, Festival of Ingathering, Feast of Nations, The Season of Our Joy and Festival of Lights.
This holiday of Yahweh is actually a chag (Festival). It was one of three times a year when all males, age 13 and over, were to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Festival. The other two occasions were Unleavened Bread and Shavuot (Pentecost) in the Spring.
Sukkot is celebrated for 7 days during the 7th month, known today as Tishri. It is celebrated
the 15th - 21st of the month. This would fall during our months of Sept/October. It is a time of great celebration in the land. Great lights were historically placed all over the city and there was much dancing, singing, rejoicing, and feasting. Today Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights but it is really like a miniature Sukkot. After the “40 days of repentance” and Yom Kippur, “The Season of Our Joy” was anxiously awaited. At Yom Kippur Yahweh had “sealed their names in the Book of Life” for another year, and had covered the sins of the nation for another year. During Sukkot, the people would construct huts or “booths” out of branches of the palm, myrtle, and willow branches. They would also gather these branches, along with the “etrog” (citron) and wave them before Yahweh, as commanded in Scripture.
These booths would be dwelt in for 7 days, as commanded by Yahweh, to remind the people of their time spent wandering in the wilderness. While in the wilderness Yahweh provided for their needs; food, water, clothing, shelter etc. Living in the booths symbolized man's need to depend upon Yahweh for all of their provisions, and it also reminded them of His continual presence which was present with them.
Sukkot was the last of the Appointed Times, except for Shemini Atzeret – The Eighth Day, which is discussed in a separate teaching.
Like all the other feasts and Appointed Times of Yahweh, Sukkot had an agricultural element. It was celebrated after the fruit crops of the land were gathered. These fruit crops being: figs, dates, pomegranates, grapes and olives. This was the last gathering of crops before winter and the rainy season started.
The First day of Sukkot is a High Sabbath day, in which no work is to be done.
What is the spiritual application of this Festival for believers in Yeshua today? Dwelling in booths still represents our dependence upon God. We are pilgrims in this world; just passing through on our way
to our promised land. We must look to Him for everything along our journey. God wants to live and dwell with his people on earth. He is our shelter and refuge.
John 1:14 - “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”. The word “dwelt” in Greek is sk'en'e which means “tent, encamp, to occupy (as a mansion), to dwell”. It is the same as the Hebrew word sukkuh. The implication here would seem to imply that Yeshua was born during Sukkot. This adds up scripturally for many different reasons. I will list only a few.
First, since all males were required to travel to Jerusalem for this Feast, the city and the surrounding area would have been crowded from the pilgrimages. Any decree made by Augustus Caesar that would have required traveling for taxation purposes would have been made far in advance so that the people had sufficient time for preparation. The feasts would have been a great time to accomplish this task. Hence, it is recorded in the New Testament that it was crowded in the area when Yeshua was born.
Likewise, Sukkot would have been dotting the landscape.
Second, the shepherds would have still been tending sheep in the fields during this month. However, after the 7th month, the rainy and cold season set in and the sheep would have been brought in from the fields.
Third, going back to the announcement to Zachariah about the conception of John the Baptist (Luke 1), we can research the course of Abijah, and also understanding that all priests were required to work in the temple during Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles, we can figure the conception and birth of John and then figure the birth of Yeshua. Hebrew tradition asserts that John was born at Passover. Yeshua would then be born 6 months later; perfect timing for Sukkot.
Fourth, in Luke 2:10 it states that “great joy” would be to all people. Sukkot was already known as the season of our joy. What would make it more joyful than a savior being born and tabernacling with us at that very season? Sukkot is a picture perfect time for the birth of The Messiah. Most Messianic Jews teach that Yeshua was born on the 1st day of Sukkot and then circumcised on the 8th day of Shemini Atzeret. Perfect timing! Most Jews associate the Appointed Time of Shemini Atzeret as the 8th day of Sukkot. This is discussed in a separate teaching. Hebrews 9:11 speaks of Yeshua being a more perfect “tabernacle”.
Beginning on the first day of Sukkot, and continuing throughout the seven days of Sukkot, the priests would bring water from the Spring or Pool of Shiloah (Siloam) in golden pitchers and pour it upon the altar mixed with the wine libation. This was referred to as the "water libation" ceremony. It was a time of great celebration and prophetically represented the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at the coming of the Messianic Kingdom. The seventh and final day of Sukkot is called “Hoshanna Rabbah”, which means Great Shouts of Save us now. On Hoshanna Rabbah the water libation ceremony concluded in the greatest of festivities.
One day in the future, Yeshua will bring complete perfection to the Festival of Sukkot. This is another reason why we should still recognize and honor this time period. As with all of the Appointed Times of Yahweh, they point to Yeshua and his plan of salvation. Sukkot represents the wedding feast of Yeshua and His bride, it also points to the future Millennium reign of Messiah Yeshua. He will then tabernacle among us again. What a Season of Joy!!!!! (Yom Teruah represents the bride "going out to meet" her Bridegroom, and Yom Kippur represents the wedding itself)
Zachariah 14:16-21 and Ezekiel 45:25 speak of this future event. We will all be keeping Sukkot in the future Messianic kingdom. Why not enjoy it now? Furthermore, if you want to celebrate the birth of Yeshua why not do it when He was likely born instead of on a day when it would have been impossible for Him to have been born? Traditions of man are sometimes hard to break even when we KNOW they hold no truth, but Sukkot holds truth, now and forever more!!!!
Sukkot is packed with so much good stuff that one teaching could never do it justice.