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Instead of doing an article on the traditional and oft repeated teachings pertinent to the Feast of Sukkot, I decided to do some research and see if I could dig out some deeper meaning of the holiday.
Sukkot is known as the Season of Our Joy, contrasting the Feast in the spring (Passover through Shavuot) which are known as the Season of Our Redemption. What deeper reasons are there behind Sukkot which make for a time of rejoicing that is to come which we may have overlooked in the past? That is what I hope to cover in this article.
When we read all the scriptures related to this Feast we find that it stands out from the others in significant ways with regard to the sacrifices that are to be offered.
Reading from Numbers the 29th chapter we find the following animal sacrifices recorded for each of the appointed times:
Unleavened Bread (offered each of the seven days): 2 bullocks, 1 ram, 7 lambs, 1 goat
Shavuot: 2 bullocks, 1 ram, 7 lambs, 1 goat
Yom Teruah: 1 bullock, 1 ram, 7 lambs, 1 goat, and a new moon burnt offering
Yom Kippur: 1 bullock, 1 ram, 7 lambs, 1 goat, (besides the goat for atonement)
Skip to Shemini Atzeret: 1 bullock, 1 ram, 7 lambs, 1 goat (normal excluding 1 bullock).
Day one: 13 bullocks, 2 rams, 14 lambs, 1 goat
Day two: 12 bullocks, 2 rams, 14 lambs, 1 goat
Day three: 11 bullocks, 2 rams, 14 lambs, 1 goat
Day four: 10 bullocks....
Day five: 9 bullocks.....
Day six: 8 bullocks....
Day seven: 7 bullocks....
Total: 70 bulls, 14 rams, 98 lambs, 7 goats (a doubling except for bullocks)
Why 70? Jewish tradition states it is because 70 was the number of the nations. We know 70 is an important number. It seems obvious that something greater is going on here?
All of the Appointed Times bring out something different about the plan of salvation through Messiah Yeshua. For example: the Passover Lamb was about the firstborn; a lamb for a family. The Yom Kippur sacrifice was for the nation of Israel. BUT during the 7 days of Sukkot - could it be that 70 bulls were slaughtered as sacrifices for “all” of the nations of the earth. One bullock for the sins of each nation?
Could it be that every Sukkot, year after year after year, the called out people went through the process of making sacrifices for the nations who were living in darkness, away from their Creator. It was a foreshadowing of the One who would come and bring all the people on the earth; of every tribe and tongue, back to their Creator; through His Messiah: Yeshua.
What specific darkness does all of the nations of the earth share since the beginning that has had them bound to sin? How is the work of Yeshua bringing us out of this darkness and restoring all the earth? I believe this darkness is attached to idolatry, which in turn is adultery against our Creator.
We all know that in the Garden of Eden that mankind (Adam and Eve) were disobedient and it caused all of us to fall into sin. We should also know that Yeshua became the second Adam, and His bride became the second Eve, but let's look closely at the sin they committed.
Genesis 3:5 For Elohim knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be like Elohim, knowing good and evil. (TS2009)
The problem here in the beginning was idolatry. The evil one led Eve to believe that she and Adam would be “gods”. This is idolatry. There is but ONE GOD, and His Name is One!
This theme continues throughout scripture.
The first commandment revolves around this issue:
Exodus 20:1-3 And Elohim spoke all these Words, saying, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
In Genesis chapter 4 we read about the descendants of Cain. In the seventh generation from creation Cain had a descendant named Lamech (Genesis 4:18-24).
We learn that Lamech was the first to commit polygamy by having two wives contrary to the natural order of one man and one woman that God had created in the beginning. The law of first mention here should tell you what God thinks of polygamy due to the fact that Lamech was apparently not a righteous man. He was boastful. There are conflicting translations with the Hebrew script as to whether or not Lamech actually murdered a man (or two) or if he was just boasting about how he would be avenged if he did murder another human being. Some Jewish commentators believe that Lamech killed Cain and his own son Tubalcain, but that's getting off topic. Either way, Lamech was not of a righteous seed nor does he appear to be righteous.
Why does the Bible give us so much detail about this man Lamech, descendant of Cain? Because there is a sharp contrast between Cain and his descendants and the descendants of Seth; which we will read about later.
It is verse 26 that I wish to give insight into:
And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos (or Enosh): then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.
“then began men to call upon the name of the LORD”, has traditionally been translated as meaning that mankind began to call the Creator by the name YHVH and to do it in a praiseworthy fashion. However, the Hebrew of the word began means “to profane, defile, pollute, desecrate, defile oneself, pollute oneself, prostitute, wound”. A better translation for this verse would be: “at that time profaning the Name of YHVH started.”
Ancient Jewish commentators such as Josephus, Jonathan, and Rashi equate this verse with the entrance of idolatry into the human race. At the time that Enosh was born to Seth – man started to make idols and to call the idols by the name of YHVH. In fact, the name Enosh literally means “mortal man” and denotes fallen man; unlike the more dignified title for mankind: Adam.
Clearly we can see that some awful things had started to happen by the 7th generation from creation. This is why the flood soon follows: because corruption had increased; then Babel and the dispersion of people groups around the earth.
At this point Abraham enters. Abraham is tied quite closely to the Tower of Babel event. Jewish history refers to his father as being the priest of Nimrod. Abraham was from this cradle of early civilization. God called Abraham away from idol worship and told him to go to a country that He would show him. He made a covenant with Him. From Abraham God would call out a nation. This was done to bring about a restoration of fallen mankind but it would take a great bit of time; and in fact, hasn't fully happened yet.
Fast forward to Mt. Sinai in Exodus chapter 19. Here we find this nation from Abraham that has been called out for a purpose. In verse 6, God tells them that they shall be a “kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” unto Him. He puts forth a marriage contract to them and they accept.
What was to be the purpose of this nation? They were to be a “light to the nations”. If this set-apart nation would have taken it's proper place and functioned as she was called to function then the entire world was supposed to benefit from her. How? Because she was to teach all the nations of the earth the ways of the Creator; pulling them away from the idolatry that entered so early on after creation. All the nations were sitting in darkness, but this called out nation was to bring them to the light of truth; bringing them back to the Creator.
But what happened? They no sooner accepted their calling than they fell back into idolatry themselves with the sin of the golden calf, and this sin was in line with just what had happened in the book of Genesis chapter 4. Let me explain:
When Moses delayed his coming down from the mountain, the people grew weary and begged Aaron to make for them an idol. Read the words:
Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
Exodus 32:4-5 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
They made an idol and called it the god that brought us up out of Egypt; or YHVH. Just like in Genesis chapter 4 they began to profane the Name of YHVH with idolatry.
Now, when we look closer here we see that there is more to the story than meets the eye. They did not make a “bull” but a “calf”. The ancients saw the calf as a little deity that was filled with the god they served. The calf was associated with the moon god. Since YHVH brought them up out of Egypt during the full moon of the month they equated YHVH as the moon god and His filling the “calf” with His presence. Why would they want YHVH to fill the calf with His presence? It wasn't really YHVH they wanted to replace but it was Moses they wanted to replace. It was Moses who had gone missing and he was the one who was supposed to lead them. To them Moses was a “little god”. So, they wanted something else to contain the presence of YHVH to go before them, and they chose the calf to serve this purpose. To them the calf was embodied with the spirit of YHVH. The calf would lead them.
Truly, the light to the nations had already been extinguished, and just like in Genesis, it happened very early.
Disobedience Is rebellion, and scripture states that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and witchcraft is idolatry.
Now, the Almighty Creator was not frightened by the failure of his creation in the beginning nor of the failure of his called out people for from before He formed the world His plan of salvation was in place. This plan of salvation would take place through His Messiah, The Memra, The Logos, The Word.
God gave ordinances to His people Israel that they were to keep. He gave to them His Torah. He instructed them about His Appointed Times.
Since Israel failed as a light to the nations, Yeshua came to correct the problem.
Now let us look at some parallels. Let’s fast forward to Yeshua and His followers.
The prophets foretold of the Servant, the Branch, who was to come and lighten the way of the nations (Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 49:6; and many more).
Then in the Renewed Covenant we find Simeon who speaks over the infant Yeshua:
Luke 2:29 – 32 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salavation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles (nations), and the glory of thy people Israel.
Oh, there are so many scriptures bearing Yeshua out as being the One! But – here is the thing:
Just as the children of Israel were to be a light to the nations when they were called at the foot of Mt. Sinai, God still needs a called out people to be a “light to the nations”. A light to bring the people of the earth; every tribe and tongue; back to the ways of the Creator.
The Second Adam, Yeshua, is doing a great work but His bride, (the second Eve), must do what she has been instructed to do.
Yeshua commanded His disciples to be a “light”. A “ light” set on a hill. His gospel message of the Kingdom was not for the Jewish people only but for all who wanted to be grafted in. In Acts 13:47 Paul and Barnabas state: For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles (nations), that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Acts 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles (nations).
At Sinai HaShem commanded the people to keep His Words and to be a light to the nations. He called them to be a kingdom of priests before Him; a holy nation. He also promised to go with them and to never leave them. Likewise Yeshua called us to be a light and left us with our Great Commission which falls right in line with His Father's:
Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen
Yeshua tells us repeatedly that His commands are His Father's commands, for He and His Father are One.
In Revelation (1:6; 5:10; 20:6) we are told that we will be a kingdom of priests.
The Season of Our Joy will come when Messiah returns and as the prophet Zachriah says:
14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
But back up and read before this verse: (9) And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
All idolatry will be eradicated. Idolatry which has taken place since the Garden of Eden. All nations are guilty: including Israel.
Sukkot is sometimes referred to as two holidays in one. Two commands were given for this feast.
Leviticus 23:39-40 contains the first command. It was to wave the branches of trees before the LORD signifiying a great harvest. This would indicate the first festival: Festival of Ingathering/rejoicing.
In order to have a good harvest the land would need to have a abundance of rain for the crops to grow.
The second commandment was about dwelling in booths (Lev. 23:42-43) This would be the second holday. It contrasted the first one because to dwell in a booth denoted being in the wilderness. It was dry and barren without rain. In fact, you could not dwell in a booth with branches as a roof if it was raining. So, why would we want to celebrate a time like this?
Scripture says it is because they were to remember coming out of Egyptian bondage. However, in Jeremiah (16:14-15; 3:16-17) we are told that we will no longer remember the coming out of Egypt or the ark of the covenant but will remember the regathering from the world and being brought back to the land.
We are currently living in a dessert, dwelling in booths without rain. But one day, a remnant of all nations will be gathered to the land and then we will experience the rejoicing of the ingathering of the harvest of the world. This will be our season of joy. There will be one God and His Name will be One.
Matthew 13:39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil. And the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.
Herein lies the restoration of the earth and Our Season of Our Rejoicing.