Sukkot, comes four days after Yom Kippur, (starting on the fifth day) and lasts for seven days. During that time, we remember the protection God gave to the people during the forty years they spent travelling in the desert. Sukkot, is also referred to as the Festival of Booths and is the last festival on God’s biblical calendar, as recorded in Leviticus 23. God wanted the people to observe this festival by living in temporary shelters “sukkahs” for seven days as a reminder that when their ancestors were in the wilderness God protected them after He had saved them.
The sukkah is a four-sided, temporary structure; with palm branches for the open roof, through which the night sky is visible, and sometimes canvas for the walls. For the seven days of this holiday, many God-fearing families eat their meals there, and others sleep in it, too. Sukkah actually means “booth”.
Leviticus 23 tells us how the holiday is to be observed. The Lord tells Moses in verses 33-36, “Tell the people, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Feast of Sukkot for seven days to Adonai. On the first day there is to be a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work. For seven days you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai; on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work.’” If God commands us not to work on this holiday, it must be very important, as the Sabbath is!
So important, that even Jesus observed it – John 7 tells us Yeshua celebrated the festival. Verses 1-4 say, “After this, Yeshua traveled around in the Galilee, intentionally avoiding Judah because the Judeans were out to kill him. But the festival of Sukkot in Judah was near; so his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go into Judah, so that your talmidim [disciples] can see the miracles you do; for no one who wants to become known acts in secret. If you’re doing these things, show yourself to the world!’”
Other scripture references on Sukkot/Festival of Booths/Feast of Tabernacle: Exodus 23:16, 34:22; Leviticus 23:34-43; Numbers 29:12-40; Deuteronomy 16:13-15; Ezra 3:4; and Nehemiah 8:13-18.
During Sukkot, two important ceremonies took place. It is critical to know that the Hebrew people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright candelabrum along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that Israel is the Light to the Nations meaning, a Light to the Gentiles. Also, the priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it to the Temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar. In the New Testament, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles and spoke these amazing words on the last and greatest 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) The next morning, while the torches were still burning Jesus said, “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).
As a Jew, Jesus was a Light to the Nations and asking those to follow him in His ways, the ways of His heritage.