Occurring on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur, the Jewish festival of Sukkot provides a striking transition from one of the most solemn Jewish holidays to one of the most joyous. This year Sukkot begins at sunset Wednesday, Sep. 18 and ends at sunset Wednesday, Sep. 25. Sukkot means "booths,” referring to the temporary dwellings that Jews are commanded to live in during this holiday. The term is the plural form while “Sukkah” is the singular designation. The name of the holiday is frequently translated "The Feast of Tabernacles."
Like Passover and Shavu'ot or Pentecost, Sukkot represents both historical and agricultural aspects of Judaism. The celebration commemorates the 40 years when the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, living in temporary shelters. In addition Sukkot is a harvest festival, often referred to as, the Festival of In-gathering.
The Festival of Booths is similar to the Festival of Unleavened Bread as well, both of which last seven days. The number seven represents spiritual perfection which culminates with the Feast of The Eighth Day, which provides a picture of an ending of the old order and the beginning of the new. Bibleresearch.org points out that “These shelters were not for the purpose of physical protection from the weather; they were to be a yearly reminder of what God had done for Israel when he brought them out of Egypt.” Prophetically, they symbolized something far more important than physical protection from the weather.
Connections with Christianity
Christianity.about.com notes two important connections between Sukkot and Jesus Christ. During the time of the festival, Jews carried torches around the temple, the glowing lights were said to represent that the Messiah was appointed to be a light to the Gentiles. In addition, the priest after drawing water from the pool of Siloam would carry it to the temple to be poured into a silver basin near the altar. The priest would call upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply, in anticipation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The New Testament also indicates that Jesus observed the Feast of Tabernacles, speaking words that astounded those who heard them on the final day of the feast: "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37-38) On the following morning, as the torches were still burning, Jesus declared, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
Hebrew4Christians.com also points out the application of the Sukkot to the Christian faith:
“From a spiritual perspective, Sukkot corresponds to the joy of knowing your sins were forgiven (during Yom Kippur), and also recalls God’s miraculous provision and care after the deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Prophetically, Sukkot anticipates the coming kingdom of Yeshua, the Messiah, when all nations shall come up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord during the festival. Today sukkot is a time to remember God’s sheltering presence and provision for us to start the New Year. In light of the work of Yeshua, as our Kohen Gadol (High Priest) of the New Covenant, we now have access to the Heavenly Temple of God. We are now members of the greater Temple of His body; we are now part of His great Sukkah.”
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Pentecost: A Christian celebration with Jewish roots