For the entire forty years that the children of Israel wandered in the desert, God provided them with food in the form of manna, which “rained down” from heaven for six mornings each week (Exo. 16:4ab,13b,14; Psalm 78:23,24). “Manna” means “What is it?” because, when it first appeared, they did not know what it was (Exo. 16:15a,31a). If they kept any of it until morning, it would be “...full of maggots and began to smell” (16:20bc). On the seventh day (the Sabbath), however, they rested from collecting the manna; God provided enough on the sixth day to last for two days, and none would appear on the seventh day (16:22-30). Manna, which was “...white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (16:31b), has been described as the “bread of angels” (Psalm 78:25a).
On two occasions, God sent flocks of quail for the people to eat (Exo. 16:13a; Num. 11:31), because they complained about not having meat (Exo. 16:3b; Num. 11:4). God also provided them with water out of a rock (Exo. 17:6; Num. 20:8,11) when they needed it. Furthermore, God provided shelter (Lev. 23:43a) for the children of Israel, and He even caused their clothes and shoes not to wear out (Deut. 29:5).
In what is called the “Song of Moses,” Moses described some of the ways that God sustained the people during their long journey:
In a desert land [God] found him [Jacob—that is, the children of Israel], in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.... The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him. He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the red blood of the grape (Deut. 32:10-14).
pillars of cloud and fire
God, in a pillar of cloud and pillar of fire, guided the ancient children of Israel through the desert by day and provided light for them by night.
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people (Exo. 13:21,22).
Presumably, the cloud by day covered the children of Israel to protect them from the scorching desert sun, and the fire by night gave light and heat in their camp.
Sukkot, also called the “Feast of Tabernacles” or “Feast of Booths,” is the last of the seven major festivals/holy days commanded by God for the children of Israel to celebrate annually. It was to begin five days after Yom Kippur, on Tishri 15 (which is a full moon), and to continue for seven days (Lev. 23:33-36,39-43; Num. 29:12-38; Deut. 16:13-15). It was a time each year to remember the forty-year period in which the children of Israel, led by Moses, wandered in the Sinai Desert with God supplying all of their needs: food, water, shelter, clothing, guidance, light, and heat.
During Sukkot, the Jews were (and are) to “...take choice fruit from the trees” (Lev. 23:40a) and to “...enjoy choice food and sweet drinks” (Neh. 8:10a) as part of the celebration. Also, each day during the festival, a water ceremony was conducted. From the Pool Shiloah (Siloam), the high priest retrieved water (known as Mayim Hayim or “Living Water”) in a vase and poured it into a golden vessel. The assistant priest filled a silver vessel with wine. Together, they would pour out the water and the wine onto the temple altar as the people sang, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isa. 12:3).
During the week of this feast, each family was to live in a small temporary dwelling (“tabernacle” or “booth”) called a sukkah (plural, sukkot) in Hebrew. They were encouraged to look up through the thatched roof at the stars in the night sky to remind them of the promise God made to Abram (Abraham) that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens—see “great nation from Abram (Abraham)”: C-2, P-II. (Many Hebrew families still do this each year during that week in the Fall.) As God commanded them,
Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths 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 (Lev. 23:42,43).
The booths were to be made of branches, as Ezra described:
Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths... (Neh. 8:15).
During the wilderness treks of the children of Israel, God was faithful to provide them with trees from which they obtained branches to build their temporary dwellings (booths). They were temporary, because the children of Israel constantly were moving from place to place.
Just as God physically sustained the children of Israel in the wilderness with manna and water, so Jesus is our spiritual and eternal “bread and water.” Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). During the future period of time referred to in the Bible as the “Millennium” (a literal period of 1,000 years), Jesus actually will reside in Jerusalem and will provide peace and prosperity for the nations of the world which acknowledge and worship Him (seeC-13, P-II and C-13, P-III). The prophet Zechariah clearly stated that the people of the nations “...will go up year after year to worship the King [Jesus], the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles [Sukkot]” (Zech. 14:16).
It previously has been shown (see “Jesus’ body, the bread”: C-4, P-II) how Jesus affirmed,
I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. ... Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me (John 6:48-51,57).
Remember, the manna in the wilderness came down from heaven (Exo. 16:4ab,13b,14; Psalm 78:23,24), just as Jesus was sent down from heaven by the Father to be our eternal “Bread” and sustenance.
Recall that God provided the children of Israel and their livestock water from a rock (Exo. 17:6; Num. 20:8,11). Paul, speaking to believers in his time about these ancient children of Israel, said,
They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10:3,4).
Jesus once attended a Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles in Judea.
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If a man 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.” By this he meant the [Holy] Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive (John 7:37-39a).
In my opinion, it is probable that this loud proclamation came at the same time, on that very last day of the festival, that the water ceremony (see “Sukkot, Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Booths” earlier in this part) was taking place.
Jesus was claiming to be the true “Mayim Hayim,” or Living Water. While the people would be singing, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isa. 12:3), Jesus would be suggesting that He was that “well of salvation” from which anyone who believed could draw Living Water. At a later time, after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the Apostle Peter stated about Jesus, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Recall, also, that during the water ceremony, the two priests poured out water and wine upon the Altar. As Jesus hung on the cross, “...one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water” (John 19:34). I see this as an indication that Jesus, the Source of Living Water (see “Fountain and River of Living Water”: C-13, P-II), would pour out His blood on the altar in heaven for the sins of humanity (Heb. 9:11,12b,14,24).
As has been pointed out before, another term for the Messiah is “the Branch” (see “names for and attributes of the Messiah”: C-3, P-I). The fact that this Branch is Jesus is signified in scriptural references such as Isa. 11:1 (a “shoot” or descendant of Jesse would grow into a “Branch” which would “bear fruit”) and Jer. 23:5 (a “righteous Branch” would be raised up from the lineage of David). It is interesting to note, concerning the “Branch” which would “bear fruit,” that God told the children of Israel to collect fruit to eat, as well as branches to build their booths, on the first day of the Feast of Sukkot.
On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days (Lev. 23:40).
God provided the children of Israel, wandering in the desert wilderness, with branches to construct temporary dwelling places (sukkot) as shelters to protect them from the elements. The true Branch (Jesus) one day (when He physically returns to earth, after the catastrophic Day of the Lord period) will provide for all the needs (such as food, shelter, and security) of those holy ones who are left in Jerusalem:
In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. (Isa. 4:2,3).
Furthermore, God said,
In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it [He] will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness (Jer. 33:15,16).
final Temple built
It previously was shown how God made a promise to King David that He would raise up an offspring (“seed”) to succeed David (see “God’s promise to David”: C-2, P-III.) Whoever this was would be over God’s house (the Temple), would sit on the throne of God’s Kingdom forever, and would be referred to by God as “my son” (1 Chr. 17:11-14). Although King Solomon, David’s son who succeeded him as king, did build the first temple, this is not the person of whom God was speaking, because Solomon was not a high priest over the temple, was not the king forever (because he died), and never was referred to as God’s “son.”
Sometime later, God told the prophet Zechariah, “Take silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua...” (Zech. 6:11). Now, the name “Joshua” (or Y’hoshua, “Jehovah [the Lord] is salvation”) is the Old Testament variation of “Jesus” (or Yeshua, “Yahweh [God] saves” or “salvation”). This event was symbolic of something which will occur yet in our future when Jesus, the Messiah (the “Branch”), is crowned High Priest (see “Jesus, our High Priest”: P-II) and King. This further is verified by subsequent statements by God:
Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two (Zech. 6:12,13).
This last statement is an indication that there will be harmony between two supreme offices, High Priest and King, because Jesus Christ will hold both of these positions at the same time. For the first time in history, “church” and “state” will merge and coordinate harmoniously together, a condition which mortal man never has been able to accomplish and maintain successfully and peaceably.
Additional verification that Jesus will be in charge of building the final Temple (see “millennial Temple”: C-13, P-II) may be seen in a vision by the prophet Ezekiel in which he viewed the future construction of the final Temple area and the Temple itself (Ezek. 40:1–43:27). Ezekiel’s vision occurred “...at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month...” (40:1a). It may be deduced that this was the tenth of the first month of the year—that is, Tishri 10 (which, as has been shown in this chapter, is Yom Kippur, the day of Jesus’ future physical return).
Ezekiel “...saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand” (Ezek. 40:3). Now, there are other places in the Bible where the body of an unidentified man (whom I believe was the pre-incarnate, glorified Messiah) appeared as glowing metal or brilliant bronze in color (Ezek. 1:26b,27; Dan. 10:5,6; Rev. 1:13-15a, 2:18); therefore, it is likely that this was Jesus rather than a mere angel. Since, as I have explained, I believe that Jesus will make His physical return to earth on a Yom Kippur (Tishri 10), the additional information linked to this vision leads me also to believe that He will begin to direct the measurements for the Temple and surrounding area on the very day that He arrives. To this majestic Temple, the people of the world actually will come to worship Jesus, the King and the Branch, annually on every Sukkot for 1,000 years (see “Jesus, the King” later in this part).
God provided the children of Israel a pillar of cloud and fire to guide them, as well as to supply them a covering from the hot sun during the day and a light at night (Exo. 13:21,22; Psalm 105:39). The psalmist wrote, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. ... The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night” (Psalm 121:2,5,6). John said of “the Word” (Jesus), “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). Paul concurred: “For by him all things were created...; all things were created by him and for him” (Col. 1:16). Thus, we may conclude that Jesus, “Maker of heaven and earth,” is and will continue to be our Shade from harm and tribulation.
John also described Jesus as the “...light [which] shines in the darkness...” (John 1:5a) and the “...true light that gives light to every man...” (1:9a). The psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). Here, “word” may by taken to mean both the written Word of God (the Bible) and the living Word, Jesus (John 1:1—see “the Word of God”: C-10, P-II). Jesus said of Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12); and “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (9:5). Jesus will guide our way through life with His Light of Truth, but only if we allow Him to do so. If not, we will walk in darkness and will end up frustrated and lost.
After Jesus physically returns to earth and sets up residence on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, He will
...create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain (Isa. 4:5,6).
Just as the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire were provided for the wandering ancient children of Israel, so a cloud of smoke and glow of flaming fire will be provided as shelter and refuge for the future Israelites who have survived the Day of the Lord holocaust (Isa. 27:7-11) and who will be brought to Jerusalem (27:12,13) by the Lord. The Lord Jesus Himself will continue to be the provider of shade and light, of peace and prosperity, which most of the earth will experience under His leadership throughout the Millennium (see “reign of Jesus”: C-13, P-II).
Joseph Good gives a detailed explanation, in Rosh HaShanah and the Messianic Kingdom to Come, of the likelihood that Jesus was born during the time of the Sukkot festival,
1) the date that the angel Gabriel told Zechariah, the soon to be father of John the Baptist, about the birth of his son (who was born six months before Jesus);
2) the approximate date of Mary’s conception; and
3) the date of Herod’s death.
Also, there were shepherds living in fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night (Luke 2:8). It would have been too cold for them to do this in late December (winter); however, it would have been a normal activity in September or October (autumn).
Interestingly, when Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Joseph (Mary’s betrothed husband) arrived in Bethlehem to register for the census, all the inn rooms were taken. So, when she gave birth to Jesus, she had to place him in a manger (Luke 2:3-7). A manger is a trough from which animals feed in their stalls in a stable. In Hebrew, a stable is called a sukkah (the singular form of sukkot). Imagine that—the King of kings and Lord of lords being laid in a manger inside of a stable! What could be more humble?
This was the time of Sukkot, a festival for which all the men in Israel were to assemble in Jerusalem and the surrounding towns (Exo. 34:22,23; Deut. 16:16a). With so many people there at once, it is no wonder that Mary and Joseph could not find a room. Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that the only shelter they could find would be a sukkah, or booth, built to shelter and feed all the incoming animals for the festival.
It may be of interest to some to know that, in ancient times, Jacob “...went to Succoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Succoth” (Gen. 33:17). “Succoth” is a variation of “sukkot.”
The Festival of Sukkot often is referred to as the “Season of our Joy.” At the time of Jesus’ birth, an angel appeared to shepherds in the fields nearby, saying, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11). As the birth of Jesus should be looked upon with great joy by the world, it is appropriate that His birth would have occurred during the Season of our Joy—Sukkot.
I believe there is sufficient evidence in the Bible to indicate that Jesus Christ, on a future Yom Kippur (Tishri 10), will return physically as earth’s King to gain control over the nations and the armies which have come against Jerusalem (Zech. 14:2,3,9—see “physical return of Jesus”: C-12, P-IV, S-1). Five days after this (Tishri 15), on the first day of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles), will be the first annual celebration of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain (Zech. 14:16,17).
Clearly and literally, representatives from the nations of the world will go to Jerusalem each year thereafter to pay homage to the King of the entire earth, Jesus Christ, the Lamb (Rev. 15:3,4). (Any area of the earth not sending delegates to Jerusalem at this time each year will not receive any rain—see “destruction of Antichrist and his armies”: C-12, P-IV, S-3.) And if Jesus truly was born during Sukkot, this festival each year would be a huge “birthday party”! I also believe that the wedding supper of the Lamb may be a 7-day celebration paralleling this very important 7-day Festival of Sukkot (see “wedding supper of the Lamb”: C-12, P-IV, S-1).
As noted by David hundreds of years before Jesus was born,
You [God the Father] made him [Jesus, the Messiah and Son] ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet (Psalm 8:6).
Jesus, along with resurrected, recreated believers, will rule the world (with perfect justice), for a period of 1,000 years (Rev. 20:6—see “reign of Jesus” and “reign of saints”: C-13, P-II), until He has “...put everything under His feet”—including the final enemy, death. According to Paul, Jesus will rule until the time
...when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign [for 1,000 years] until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he [the Father] “has put everything under his [Jesus’] feet.” ... When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:24-27a,28).
I fully agree with Job, my biblical and spiritual brother, who said, “I know that my Redeemer [Yeshua haMashiach] lives, and that in the end he will stand [physically] upon the earth” (Job 19:25). And, with all the mounting evidence that we are in the “last days,” I would not be surprised to see this glorious event occurring relatively soon after the turn of the next millennium.
There are indications in this section that God somehow is composed of “the Father” and “the Son.” But how can God be the only “God” (Deut. 4:35; Isa. 43:10b, 44:6, 45:5ab,21de) if there is “more than one” of Him? To further confuse the issue, the reality of the matter is that God also is composed of “the Holy Spirit,” which already has been implied a few times thus far in this book. A detailed explanation of the Trinity of God, as well as how I believe He has created many triplicates in nature to point to His own triplicity, will be given in the next chapter.
Calendar of Hebraic Holy Days 2012–2021*
|Feast of Firstfruits
Aviv ___ (varies)
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