We are studying the Feasts of the Lord found in Leviticus 23. The study of the feasts is a study in typology. Typology is the interpretation of Old Testament events, persons, and ceremonies as signs, which prefigured Christ's fulfillment in the New Covenant with the church.
For time sake, I'm not going to do any review this morning, but we're going to jump right into our study of the Seventh and final feast, which is the Feast of Tabernacles:
Leviticus 23:34 (NKJV) "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.
This is the seventh feast on the seventh month, and it was to last for seven days. The number "seven" is the Biblical number of completion. This is the grand finale in God's plan of redemption.
The Feast of Tabernacles is the most joyful and festive of all Israel's feasts. It is also the most important and prominent feast; mentioned more often in Scripture than any of the other feasts. This feast also served as the historical backup for the important teachings of Jesus in John, chapters 7-9.
The Feast of Tabernacles is known by at least two names in Scripture. Most often it is referred to as Sukkot or "Tabernacles." The English word "tabernacle" is from the Latin tabernaculum, meaning: "booth" or "hut." It acquired this name from the Biblical requirement for all Israelites to dwell in tabernacles or temporary shelters during the holiday. It was to be an annual reminder of God's provision during the 40-year wilderness sojourn when Israel lived in similar shelters. This final feast of the year is known in Scripture also as the "Feast of Ingathering"; for it was observed after all crops had been harvested and gathered:
Exodus 23:16 (NKJV) "and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.
The feast was celebrated with great joy. The joy was twofold, for it commemorated God's past goodness and provision during their wilderness sojourn, and it commemorated God's present goodness and provision with the completion of harvest.
The Feast of Tabernacles falls in the autumn of the year. On the Hebrew calendar, it occurs on the 15th day of Tishri, the seventh month (usually late September to mid-October); only five days after the solemn Day of Atonement. The Feast of Tabernacles lasts for seven days. The first day and the day after Tabernacles (the eighth day, known as Shemini Atzeret) are considered sacred assemblies, or Sabbaths (Lev. 23:36, 39). As such, no work of any kind is permitted on these days (Leviticus 23:36, 39).
Three portions of Scripture outline the biblical observance of the Feast of Tabernacles. The people were to live in booths and rejoice before the Lord with branches. (Lev. 23:33-43). There were to be many daily, sacrificial offerings (Numbers 29:12-39). In a sabbatical year, the Law was to be publicly read during Tabernacles.
Because of the joy associated with the Feast of Tabernacles, it became the most prominent of Israel's holidays. It was referred to simply as "the holiday" by the ancient rabbis. The importance of the Feast of Tabernacles is also seen in its inclusion as one of the three pilgrim feasts; Passover and Pentecost being the other two. Three times during the year, all Jewish males were required by the Lord to appear before Him in the Temple. These were known as Pilgrim Feasts because of the required pilgrimage to Jerusalem. During the Feast of Tabernacles, the people brought their tithes and offerings to the Temple, for they were not to "appear before the Lord empty-handed"
Further importance is seen in the great number of required sacrifices during the feast week. Each day one goat, 14 lambs, two rams, and a number of bullocks (13 on the first day, decreasing by one each day) was offered in the Temple. Each of the sacrifices were offered with its appropriate meal offerings (flour and oil) and drink offerings (wine). All 24 divisions of priests shared in the sacrificial duties during the week. In the days of the Temple, the Feast of Tabernacles was viewed with great awe, for it was during the Feast of Tabernacles that Solomon dedicated the newly built Temple to the Lord. At that ancient observance of Tabernacles, the Shekinah glory of the Lord descended from Heaven to light the fire on the altar and fill the Holy of Holies.
The Feast of Tabernacles occurs at Israel's change of seasons and marks the beginning of the winter, rainy season. These refreshing rains bring necessary moisture for working the soil and the sprouting of new crops. If for some reason the weather patterns are such that several weeks of rainfall are missed, a dire water shortage can quickly develop for the coming year's crops. Because the Feast of Tabernacles is observed at this important junction, when the anticipation of rain is at its highest, the two have become inseparably connected. Even today, the prayers of rain remain an important part of Tabernacles' observance.
The Service of the Feast of Tabernacles
In the days of the Temple, the Jewish pilgrims flocked to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. They came from every village within the nation and from many foreign countries, most often in large caravans for protection. It was a joyous trip with much singing and laughing along the way.
Upon arrival in Jerusalem, the pilgrims focused their energies upon building booths for the feast. By the afternoon of Tishri 14, thousands upon thousands of leafy booths lined the streets and dotted the surrounding fields and hills. All were carefully located within a Sabbath's day's journey (a little more than a half mile) of the Temple. At sundown, the blast of the shofar (ram's horn) from the Temple announced the arrival of the holiday. A sense of increased excitement fell over the city as darkness came. Myriads of twinkling campfires studded the surrounding countryside.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, the intense anticipation of rain came to be reflected in the temple services. Each morning of Tabernacles, a water libation (sacrificial pouring out of a liquid) was offered to the Lord as a visual prayer for rain. Shortly after dawn each morning, while the many sacrifices were being prepared, the high priest was accompanied by a joyous procession of music and worshipers down to the Pool of Siloam. The high priest carried a golden pitcher capable of holding a little more than a quart of water. He carefully dipped the pitcher into the pool and brought it back to the Temple Mount.
At the same time, another procession went down to a nearby location south of Jerusalem, known as Motza, where willows of the brook grew in great abundance. They gathered the long, thin willows and brought them back to the temple. At the Temple, the willows were placed on the sides of the altar so that their tops formed a canopy of drooping branches over the altar. Meanwhile the high priest with the water from the Pool of Siloam had reached the southern gate of the Temple. It was known as the WATER GATE because of this ceremony. As he entered, three blasts of the silver trumpets sounded outside the Temple, and the priests with one voice repeated the words of Isaiah:
Isaiah 12:3 (NKJV) Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation.
The high priest slowly proceeded then to the stone altar in the Inner Court of the Temple and ascended the right side of the ramp. At the peak, he turned to the left where there were two silver basins which drained to the base of the altar. One was reserved for the regular drink offerings (libations of wine), and one for the water libations during this feast. As the high priest raised the golden pitcher to pour out the water offering, the people shouted, "Raise your hand!" In response, the high priest lifted his hand higher and poured, allowing the people to verify his action. This tradition arose around 95 B.C. in response to an uprising in the days of Alexander Jannaeus, the king-priest grandson of Simon the Maccabees.
As the high priest poured out the water libation before the Lord, a drink offering of wine was simultaneously poured into the other basin. Three blasts of the silver trumpets immediately followed the pouring and signaled the start of the Temple music. The people listened as a choir of Levites sang the Hallel (i.e. the praise Psalms 113-118). At the proper time, the congregation waved their palm branches toward the altar and joined in singing: "Save now, I pray, Oh Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity" (Psalms 118:25). At the same time the priests, with palm branches in hand, marched once toward the altar.
Psalm 118 was viewed as a messianic psalm, and, as such, gave the feast a messianic emphasis. This is why Jesus was greeted by the crowds shouting, "Hosanna" (Hebrew for "save now" ) and waving palm branches on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem ( Luke 19:38; John 12:13). They viewed Him as the Messiah King, come to deliver ("save now" Israel in fulfillment of Psalm 118):
Psalms 118:25 (NKJV) Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
Matthew 21:8-9 (NKJV) And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' Hosanna in the highest!"
They hailed Him with the messianic imagery of palm branches from the Feast of Tabernacles. This same imagery is in view in Revelation 7:9-10, where redeemed saints worship, with palm branches in hand, around the throne of God and of the Lamb,
This custom of carrying branches and singing psalms during the Feast of Tabernacles is of ancient origin. It dates back at least to the time of the Maccabees, some 165 years before Christ (cf. Mac. 10:6-7). The water-drawing ceremony is also from antiquity. Although debate exists as to whether Isaiah alluded to the water-drawing ceremony (Isaiah 12:3), or the ceremony was derived from the words of Isaiah, it is known that the ceremony was in use at least 100 years before the time of Jesus.
The celebration of the water pouring (as opposed to the ceremony) was observed during the evenings of the feast by an impressive light ceremony in the Temple. It was known as the Simchet Bet Hasho'ayva ("The Rejoicing of the House of Water Drawing"). As the second evening of Tabernacles approached, the people crowded into the vast outer court of the Temple known as the Court of the Women. On this occasion, a barrier was raised to divide the men from the women. In the center of the court stood four towering menorahs (lamp stands), each with four branches of oil lamps. Their wicks were manufactured from the worn-out linen garments of the priests. Each menorah had four long ladders leading up to the lamps, which were periodically refilled by young priests carrying large pitchers of olive oil. The Feast of Tabernacles began in the middle of the lunar month, when the harvest moon was full and the autumn sky was clear. The outline of the surrounding Judean hills was clearly visible in the soft moonlight. Against this backdrop, the light of the Temple celebration was breathtaking. All night long the elders of the Sanhedrin performed impressive torch dances, while the steady yellow flames of the menorah oil lamps flooded the Temple and the streets of Jerusalem with brilliant light.
Soon after the celebration was underway, a group of Levites gathered in the Inner Court in what was known as the "Court of the Israelites". Once formed, the group of Levites moved through the Nicanor Gate to stand at the top of the 15 steps leading down to the Court of the Women. The sound of Temple flutes, trumpets, harps, and other stringed instruments swelled as the Levites sang the 15 Psalms of Degrees (Psalms 120-134). With each new psalm they descended to the next step.
This celebration was repeated every night from the second night until the final night as a prelude to the water drawing the next morning. Nothing in ancient Israel compared to this light celebration. It was so spectacular that the ancient rabbis said, "He that hath not beheld the joy of the drawing of the water (the Simchet Bet Hasho'ayva celebration) hath never seen joy in his life (Sukkah 5:1). The light celebration was reminiscent of the descent of the Shekinah glory in Solomon's day, and looked forward to the return of the glory of the Lord.
John recorded that it was the day after the Feast of Tabernacles (the eighth day), which was considered a Sabbath, when Jesus returned from the Mount of Olives to teach in the Temple (John 8:2; cf. 7:2, 37). As the Pharisees came to entrap Him, Jesus proclaimed:
John 8:12 (NKJV) Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
The Pharisees did not question the meaning of His statement. They knew it was a messianic claim, for they immediately called Him a liar. They were familiar with the many titles in Scripture which ascribed LIGHT to the Messiah. He is called the "Star out of Jacob," the "light of Israel," the "light of the nations (Gentiles)," a "refiners fire," a "burning lamp," and the "Sun of righteousness."
Later that day, the Messiah reinforced this same truth when He healed the blind man. As He did so, He repeated, "As long as I am in this world, I am the light of the world" (John 9:5). The Pharisees were again angered at Jesus. The issue continued to be His messiahship (John 9:22). This time, however, they chose to find fault in that He had healed the blind man on the eighth day, which was considered a Sabbaths by Scripture (John 9:14). Although there were no Mosaic laws against the act of healing on the Sabbath, the traditions of the Pharisees classified it as work, and therefore, forbade it. More than just a messianic claim, Jesus' claim to be the "light of the world" carried a reference to the Temple light celebration. The celebration was still vivid in their minds. They had just celebrated it six nights in a row. The light that Jesus offered would light not just the Temple, it would light the whole world. He, Himself, was the source:
Isaiah 49:6 (NKJV) Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
On the seventh and final day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Temple services reached a climax. The anticipation of rain was at its annual high. Jewish tradition held that it was on this day that God declared whether there would be rain for the coming year's crops. Consequently, on this final day of the feast, the Temple water-pouring ritual took on great importance. Water was the foremost thought on every one's mind.
On the other six days of this feast, the silver trumpets gave three blasts. On this day the trumpets gave three sets of seven blasts. On the other six days, the priests made but one circuit around the altar. On this day, the priests made seven. As they marched around the altar, they sang the Hosanna verse (Psalm 118:25), and the people waved palm branches. For these reasons, the day was known as Hoshanah Rabbah, or "Great Hosanna". Thoughts of rain for the coming year and messianic fervor were at their highest pitch.
The year was around A.D. 30. It was Hoshanah Rabbah, the last day, the great day of the Feast of Tabernacles. As the people intently watched the priests conduct the service, a loud voice rang out from the crowd. The priests glared in consternation, and the people whipped around in great surprise to see who dared interrupt the service. They saw a young Galilean in His early 30s, the one whom many held to be a great rabbi, a prophet, or even the Messiah:
John 7:37-38 (NKJV) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
The sound of His words produced silence, then ecstasy. The religious leadership was infuriated, indignant, and threatened. Some wanted to kill Him:
John 7:44 (NKJV) Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.
The authoritative claim was understood by all, believed by some, spurned by others. Jesus was claiming to be the long awaited and promised Messiah.
I believe that Jesus Christ, the Living water, was born into this world during the Feast of Tabernacles. I would like to give you some facts that prove that Jesus was born on the first day of Sukkot. First, I trust that you understand that December 25th is not the real date of Jesus' birth. The December 25th date is simply tradition. December 25th was not recognized as the date of Messiah's birth until the fourth century when Constantine Christianized all of the pagan holidays. To understand the date of Jesus' birth, we must correctly establish the date of John the Baptist's birth. Luke 1:26 indicates that there were exactly six months difference between the conception of John and the conception of Jesus. If their conceptions were six months apart, then their births would also be six months apart. So let's see if we can figure out when John was born. Luke 1:5 and 1:8 states that John the Baptist's dad, Zechariah, belonged to the priestly division of Abijah and was serving in the Temple when he received the news that Elizabeth would be with child. 1 Chronicles 24:10 says that Zechariah's priestly division, Abijah, was the eighth division to serve at the Temple. The Mishnah (Oral Torah) states that each division had to serve twice in one year (but not consecutively), with the first division starting on the first week of Nissan. Each division served a one-week period and all priestly divisions had to serve during the three pilgrim Festivals.
The following is the order of the priestly divisions in relation to the Feasts:
1st week of Nisan, 1st priestly division of Jehoiarib serves
2nd week of Nisan, 2nd priestly division of Jedaiah serves
3rd week of Nisan, Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, all priests serve
4th week of Nisan, 3rd priestly division of Harim serves
1st week of Iyar, 4th priestly division of Seorin serves
2nd week of Iyar, 5th priestly division of Malkijah serves
3rd week of Iyar, 6th priestly division of Mijamin serves
4th week of Iyar, 7th priestly division of Hakkoz serves
1st week of Sivan, 8th priestly division of Abijah serves
2nd week of Sivan, Shavuot, all priests serve (including the division of Abijah)
Zechariah serves during the first week of Sivan and then is required to serve the following week for Shavuot. During Shavuot, the priests would draw lots to see who would get the honor of going into the Holy Place to burn incense on the altar. Only once during a priest's lifetime could his lot be drawn for this service. Zechariah's lot was drawn (Luke 1:9), and it was his time to offer the incense. Zechariah would enter the Holy Place, offer incense, and then would return back outside to give the blessing over the worshipers. As Zechariah is offering incense, to his surprise, an angel of the Lord appears to him and informs him that his prayers have been answered, and that his wife will be with child. Zechariah doubted the angel's announcement, and he lost the ability to speak (Luke 1:19-20). The worshipers began to wonder what was taking Zechariah so long ,and then he appeared to give the blessing, but soon realized he could not speak (Luke 1:21-22). After Zechariah's service was completed, he returned home; and Elizabeth, his wife, conceived. John the Baptist was conceived some time after Shavuot. If John were conceived sometime after Shavuot, then John the Baptist would have been born in the month of Nisan. I would like to propose that John was born on Nisan 15, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover, based on these facts. First, Malachi 4:5-6 indicates that Elijah must come prior to the arrival of the Day of the Lord. In Matthew 11:11-14, Messiah says that John the Baptist is the Elijah who was to come. John came as the forerunner to Christ's ministry; John prepared the hearts and minds of people for Christ. John was the Elijah to come as prophesied by Malachi. When were the Jewish people expecting Elijah? At every Passover Seder a place is set for Elijah, and a child will open the door to see if Elijah has come. If John the Baptist is the Elijah to come, and he was conceived sometime after Shavuot, then I believe that John was born on Passover (Nisan 15).
Remember that Messiah was born six months after John the Baptist. If John was born on Nisan 15, then Messiah would have to be born on Tishri 15. I believe Messiah was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. John says, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us..." The Greek word for "dwelt or dwelling" is skenoo and means: "to occupy (as a mansion) or (spec.) to reside (as God did in the Tabernacle of old, a symbol of protection and communion)" The sukkah is a perfect picture of Christ. The sukkah is not an attractive structure, just as there wasn't anything of Christ that would attract us to Him (Isaiah 53:2). If Christ's life and ministry revolved around the Feast's of the Lord, then even His birth had to be in conjunction with a Feast. The Feast of Tabernacles fits perfectly with Messiah's birth. The Savior of the world was born in a lowly sukkah on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
If Messiah was born on Tishri 15, then His circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of Sukkot. The Jews have a tradition associated with the eight day called "Simchat Torah" and means "Rejoicing in the Torah." Luke 2:21-38 says that on the eighth day they brought the baby Messiah up to the Temple to circumcise Him and to name Him, and when Simeon and Anna saw Israel's Savior, they rejoiced over Him. These two righteous people were rejoicing over the Living Torah of God. Every aspect of Messiah's birth, including the day of His circumcision, is a picture designed to teach us more about Him.
As we have stated earlier, the Feast of Tabernacle is called "the season of our joy" and "the feast of the nations." With this in mind, notice what Luke writes:
Luke 2:10 (NKJV) Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
Here the birth of Christ is announced as a time of great joy [Sukkot is called the "season of our joy"], which shall be to all people [Sukkot is called "the feast of the nations"]. So, we can see from this that the terminology the angel used to announce the birth of Jesus were themes and messages associated with the Feast of Tabernacles.
In Luke 2:12, the baby Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. The swaddling cloths were also used as wicks to light the 16 vats of oil within the court of the women during the festival of Sukkot. So, swaddling cloths are associated with the festival of Sukkot.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, God required that all male Jews come to Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:16). For this reason, the city would be overcrowded with people, and would explain why Mary and Joseph could not find lodging in and around Jerusalem (Luke 2:7). Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born, is only about four miles from Jerusalem.
It was during the time of this fall feast that marks the beginning of the construction of God's sukkah, the sanctuary in the desert (Exodus 25:8-9). In Exodus 25:9, the word tabernacle is the word mishkan in Hebrew. According to tradition, Moses again ascended Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights to receive the second set of tablets and descended on Yom Kippur, carrying them as a sign of God's forgiveness of Israel for the sin of the golden calf and as a symbol of the lasting covenant between God and Israel (Exodus 24:12-18; 34:1-2; 27-28). The following day Moses relayed God's instructions for building the mishkan - a dwelling place.
Why was the mishkan built?:
Exodus 25:8 (NKJV) "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
To establish the relationship between God and Israel, God would dwell amidst the people. Therefore the mishkan, the tabernacle in the wilderness, was instructed to be built by God for Him so He could dwell with His people. Spiritually speaking, this physical tabernacle was given by God to teach and instruct us that He desires to live and dwell with His people.
The sukkah, or booth, symbolizes man's need to depend upon God for his provision of food, water, and shelter. This is true in the spiritual realm as well. The booth is the physical body, which is a temporary dwelling place for our souls and spirits (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We need the food that the Word of God provides (Matthew 6:11; 4:4; John 6:33-35); the cleansing, rinsing, and washing that the Word of God brings to our lives (Ephesians 5:26); and the shelter of God's protection over our lives.
With this in mind, let's look at the context by which the word tabernacle is used in the New Covenant
Jesus tabernacled (sukkot) among us (John 1:14). Peter spoke about his body being a tabernacle (2 Peter 1:13-14). The apostle Paul told us that our earthly bodies were earthly houses, or tabernacles:
2 Corinthians 5:1 (NKJV) For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The Bible speaks of a heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1-2; Revelation 13:6; 15:5). This heavenly tabernacle is seen coming to earth (Revelation 21:1-3). Jesus was the true tabernacle of God (Hebrews 9:11).
So, the booth, or sukkah, was a temporary dwelling place. Historically, it was to remind the people of their exodus from Egypt as described in Leviticus 23:42-43. Prophetically, the sukkah points toward the return of Christ, when God would dwell with His people in a face to face relationship. Spiritually, a sukkah is supposed to remind us that we are but strangers and pilgrims on the earth, this being a temporary dwelling place. To the believer in Christ, our earthly physical body is only a temporary tabernacle. At our physical death, we will receive a new and heavenly house, a spiritual body (2 Corinthians 5:1-6).
The purpose for living in booths is indicated in Leviticus 23:42, "So your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God." When God brings one of His elect out of bondage to sin and gives them new life and salvation, He has them live in booths - a temporary dwelling, so they can learn of His faithfulness, care, and protection.
One of the most outstanding truths of the Feast of Tabernacles involves the seasonal rains in Israel. The prophet Joel tells us that the former and latter rain would come in the first month:
Joel 2:23 (NKJV) Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the LORD your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you; The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month.
This is because Passover is the first month in the religious or sacred calendar, and Tabernacles is the first month in the civil calendar. So Israel has two first months in the same year, because of the special calendar that God set up in Exodus 12:2.
Hosea 6:3 tells us that the coming of the Messiah will be as the former and latter rain on the earth. We just saw that Christ came to earth (was born) during the festival of Tabernacles, the first month of the civil calendar, and died at His first coming during the first month (Nisan) on the sacred calendar. His second coming will also be in the first month of the civil calendar, Tishrei. Christ did return during the fall of the year in A.D. 70..
Christ is the rain that came down from Heaven as well as the living water and the fountain of living water spoken of in John 4:4-6,10-14,20-24; and Revelation 21:6 and 22:1-5,17. Christ desires that we drink of the water He gives, which results in everlasting life (John 4:14) that we might be filled (Matthew 5:6).
The fullness of this feast in the seventh month was experienced at the coming of Christ at the destruction of Jerusalem. This was a time of great joy for all believers.
The Feast of Tabernacles was to celebrate and commemorate: 1. The end of the wanderings in the desert of the children of Israel. 2. It also was a celebration of their inheritance of and entry into Canaan - the Promised Land.
The anti-typical fulfillment came at the end of the 40 year transition period (A.D. 30-70) when the Old Covenant came to an end and the New Covenant was fully consummated, and the inheritance of the new heavens and the new earth arrived, where we "tabernacle there with God". Tabernacles speaks of the final rest, as well as the final harvest.
I said earlier in this message that the Feast of Trumpets is also known in Scripture as the "Feast of Ingathering", for it was observed after all crops had been harvested and gathered. The Bible often speaks of the final judgment as a harvest:
Hosea 6:11 (NKJV) Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, When I return the captives of My people.
Joel 3:13 (NKJV) Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow; For their wickedness is great."
Matthew 13:39 (NKJV) "The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.
Revelation 14:15 (NKJV) And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."
This harvest is a Day of Ingathering, when God gathers His people unto Himself and burns the wicked like the chaff and stubble:
Malachi 4:1-2 (NKJV) "For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up," Says the LORD of hosts, "That will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
The righteous among the Gentiles, too, were gathered to the Lord. In that day, the Gentiles will pray in the Heavenly Jerusalem:
Zechariah 14:16-17 (NKJV) And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.
The Lord not only gathered His people, but He began to TABERNACLE in their midst:
Revelation 21:3 (NKJV) And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
This age in which we now live is the New covenant age. We are the New Jerusalem, God's holy bride.
Revelation 21:24 (NKJV) And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
The saved of the nations walk in the light of this holy city. We are the light of the world today, a city set on a hill.
Revelation 21:25 (NKJV) Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
What does that mean? Look at:
Isaiah 60:11 (NKJV) Therefore your gates shall be open continually; They shall not be shut day or night, That men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, And their kings in procession.
Here we see the reason that these gates are never shut; that men may bring into it the wealth of the Gentiles and their kings in procession. This is a reference to the power of the gospel. The next verse tells us that only the elect enter it:
Revelation 21:27 (NKJV) But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
Salvation is always available, the gates are always open to this city. Look at chapter 22:
Revelation 22:1-2 (NKJV) And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Here the river of the water of life flows forth from the temple to the nations of the world. The tree of life is there for the healing of the nations. The river of the water of life was predicted in the Old Testament in Ezekiel 47. This river comes forth from the New Jerusalem in Revelation 22:1-2; the church, the bride of Christ. We are to be involved in taking the water of life to the nations. What is the water of life?
Revelation 22:17 (NKJV) And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
This is a call to salvation! If the new heavens and the new earth are supposed to be the eternal state, why is the invitation to salvation still going out? The new heaven and earth is the New Covenant, the church. And from the church goes forth the water of life for the healing of the nations.
We are now living in the new heaven and earth. We are the new Jerusalem, which is the bride of Christ. Jesus Christ and His Father are among us, and we need no temple; we need none of the rituals and ceremonies of the old heaven and the old earth. We are in God's presence now and forevermore.
C.H. Spurgeon said: "Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, or any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews? Did you ever pine for the feast of tabernacle, or the dedication? No, because, though these were like the old heavens and earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away, and we now live under the new heavens and a new earth, so far as the dispensation of divine teaching is concerned. The substance is come, and the shadow has gone: and we do not remember it." (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. xxxvii, p. 354).
The old heavens and earth of Judaism have passed away, and we now live in the new heavens and new earth of the New covenant. May God help us to fully understand and appreciate our position in the new heaven and earth, where righteousness dwells, and where God dwells with His people.
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