In 2023, Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles) follows the Feast of Atonement on September 29-October 6. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they spent 40 years in the wilderness. God visited them and took care of them, providing food, water, clothing, even helping them defeat their enemies. Though they lived in tents, their needs were always met.
The Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated every year because they wanted to remember and celebrate how God not only took care of them, but how His presence came down and lived with them. Every year, each family set up a little tabernacle in a tent, and for seven days the family lived in the tent, celebrating the presence of God with them during those hard times, celebrating that He brought them into the promised land.
As the seventh feast, symbolizing the day of rest, God called them to rest and to enjoy His presence. Seven is also the number of completion. All the other feasts were very busy, but the seventh one was a big celebration full of rest and enjoyment.
This feast emphasized the presence of God with us—no matter where we are, His tabernacle is with us, in our hearts. Where we are, He wants to be. This is seen in the original building of the Tabernacle, in the Garden with Adam and Eve, and in the greatest presence of all, when He comes down and lives in our hearts.
This is a blueprint of Jesus. Through the Feast of Tabernacles, we see God’s plan for us, the sending of His Son so we could have His constant presence, not just once a year, but every day! Tabernacles also represent that one day, Jesus will come back and establish the ultimate tabernacle, His Kingdom.
This year, Yom Kippur (the Feast of Atonement) is September 24-25. In Leviticus 23:26-32, the Feast of Atonement was special, and required a 24-hour feast of repentance. This feast isn’t for the church, but for the Israelites—God’s old covenant people. For 24 hours they reflected on the previous year and repented of their sins.
On that day, no one was to work, only spending time focusing on how they had sinned, seeking repentance, and asking God to have mercy on them. This feast was all about cleansing Israel with an offering of a lamb (blood sacrifice), covering their sins in full. God gave us a future picture with this feast because Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to take away the sin of the world, for both the Jew and the Gentile. Jesus’s blood atoned for (covered) our sin so we could walk in freedom.
Zechariah 12:10 tells us there’s coming a day when Israel will look on Jesus, the Lamb of God, who they pierced and know in an instant that He is their Messiah. A nation will be saved on that day. They will see Him and know Him as the wounded one, the Bread of Life. They will feast on the Bread of Life. This feast has everything to do with you because the Old Covenant is your foundation, and we’ll be blessed when we pray for Israel.
This month’s verse is Psalm 118:24. To give context for this verse, a study of the entire Psalm is excerpted below from my book, Experiencing God’s Heart: The Book of Psalms for Today. I pray you are blessed today and throughout the month of September as we discuss the theme of hope and joy; and celebrate the Jewish Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
2 Let Israel now say, “His mercy endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron now say, “His mercy endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord now say, “His mercy endures forever.”
5 I called on the Lord in distress; The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. 6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7 The Lord is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me. 8 It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man. 9 It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes.
10 All nations surrounded me, But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. 11 They surrounded me, Yes, they surrounded me; But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. 12 They surrounded me like bees; They were quenched like a fire of thorns; For in the name of the Lord I will a]”>[a]destroy them. 13 You pushed me violently, that I might fall, But the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation Is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. 16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. 17 I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord. 18 The Lord has chastenedb]”>[b] me severely, But He has not given me over to death.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord, Through which the righteous shall enter.
21 I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord. 27 God is the Lord, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You.
29 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
Author of Psalm 118: Anonymous
Background: Psalm 118 is the last of the Great Hallel psalms and was sung following the Passover meal. Nearly a century after the return of the Jewish people to Palestine, Nehemiah engineered the reconstruction of the walls around Jerusalem in 52 days! We believe this psalm, which was sung by our Lord and His apostles (see below), was written commemorating this joyous occasion.
Theme: The eternal merciful nature of God inspires thanksgiving and trust. To those who confidently call upon Him in times of distress, He will valiantly deliver.
Psalm 118 Quoted in the New Testament: Verse 6 is quoted in Hebrews 13:6 by the author of Hebrews in his instructions to the Jewish people regarding godly living. Verse 22 is quoted by Jesus (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10-11; and Luke 20:17) and by Peter (Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7) referring to the rejection of Jesus by Jewish leaders. Verse 26 is quoted in Matthew 21:9; 23:39; Mark 11:9; Luke 13:35; 19:38; and John 12:13 referring to Jesus as the Messiah.
Personal Application: Christians experience varying levels of trials while walking with Jesus and are frequently challenged to exercise faith. Whatever situation you are experiencing right now, have faith that God is able to deliver you. Read Psalm 118 many times and think about the great trial Jesus faced as He prepared to die on the cross. Be courageous and joyful knowing full well that the same God who resurrected Jesus is also working on your behalf!