The Manifestation of His Presence

My Sukkot/Shemini Atzeret Message

When we consider the festivals of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret and how it affects our lives today in the way we honor/keep and rehearse these Appointed Times we need to go back to the first century and determine how and why the Jews observed them at that time, long after the original wilderness journey had ended. It is not just about having a sukkah built and hanging out in it for seven days to remember the temporary dwellings in the wilderness. A very significant event happened in the 1st century that

should shape our present understanding and remembrance rehearsal.

Go back with me for a moment to the 1st century during a Festival of Sukkot.

The Scene In Jerusalem

Festival of Lights

It truly was a festival of lights for four 75 feet candelabra's were erected in the Court of the Women high upon the Temple. Each candelabra had four branches and at the top of every branch was a huge bowl. Four young men bearing pitchers of oil would climb ladders to fill the golden bowls and set them alight each evening of Sukkot (Mishnah). Imagine 16 blazing torches lighting up the night sky. The Temple sat on a hill so the entire city could see the lights and they would be lighting up the night sky all over the city.

The Temple

The Temple was central to Sukkot. In fact, King Solomon dedicated the first Temple during Sukkot and the glory (Shikinah) of YHVH filled the Temple on Sukkot.

Water Drawing Ceremony

Each day of Sukkot the priests would conduct the “water drawing” ceremony. The priests would take a golden pitcher and lead a musical procession to the Pool of Siloam (Shiloah) where a priest would dip up water into the golden pitcher as he recited, “Therefore with joy you shall draw water from the wells of salvation (yeh-shoo-AH).” This was a reference to Isaiah 12:3:

“And you shall draw water with joy from the waters of salvation”

The priest would then take this golden pitcher of water back to the Temple and pour it upon the altar while reciting, “Hoshiana, I pray O LORD, send now prosperity”. This came from

Psalms 118:25.

This symbolized the reference from Psalms about the pouring out of the Holy Spirit during the days of the coming Messianic Kingdom, and they saw this from Isaiah 44:3:

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring

This was followed by a great silence by the crowds of people as they reflected upon their thirst for the coming of Messiah and the promised pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon them. Each day the people

would rejoice over God's provision of water for their crops in the prior year and reflect on the coming refreshment which would be upon them when the Holy Spirit was poured out during the Messianic


The priests performed this water drawing ceremony once on each day of Sukkot until the 7th day when the process was repeated 7 times. The anticipation and excitement was so great on this day that it was recorded that “no one had experienced joy until they had experienced this day”. The 7th day was called Hoshanna Rabbah meaning great shouts of save us now.

The Sukkah

The whole land would be dotted with sukkot. The sukkot would be decorated with the four species. The people would rejoice in the streets: dancing, singing; the priests would also perform: some juggling

fire torches etc. The people would also wave willow, palm, and myrtle branches as they rejoiced and enjoyed the produce of their harvest. They would invite friends and relatives to join them in their

Sukkah. It was a great time of joy.

The Eighth Day Celebration (Shemini Atzeret)

Dwelling in Sukkot was no longer commanded. There was no water drawing ceremony. The seventy bulls that had been sacrificed on each day of Sukkot would end and now only one bull would be sacrificed. It was a High Sabbath. The eighth day was called “The Last Great Day of the Feast.”

The people and the priests would sing the Halliel Psalms of praise which included Psalms 118:21,22, and 26:

I will praise thee: for You have heard me, and have become my salvation (yeh-shoo-AH). The stone which the builders rejected has now become the chief cornerstone.....Blessed is he that comes in The Name of YHVH.

Now that we have seen what a first century celebration would have looked like, let us now consider how the people viewed their celebration of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret. They were not just thanking Elohim and remembering their wilderness journey but instead they were rehearsing for the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Please consider: