The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.
(These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the Lord—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord’s Sabbaths and[a] in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the Lord.)
So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’”
So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed festivals of the Lord.
God-appointed festivals were designed to remind God’s people of past events and foretell of future events. The entire Festival of Tabernacles, celebrated during autumn harvest, commemorates God’s presence with his people during the wilderness wanderings and also looks to the coming return of Christ when God’s presence returns to be with his people in a particular way once again.
It is prophesied when Christ returns, we will gather at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb celebrating the triumph of the Savior over all things, much like a final harvest festival (Revelation 19:7-10).
This festival begins with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) which ushers in ten days of penitence for the people to prepare for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). This holy day commemorates the annual moment when the high priest would enter the presence of God in the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 23). The Feast of Tabernacles is considered the holiest of days in the festival and begins five days later to celebrate the final harvest day and foreshadow the final harvest of souls.
Just as God instructed them, Jews continue to set up shelters on the Feast of Tabernacles and dwell in them for seven days. Notice how God specifically instructed them to pull from luxuriant trees and build beautiful booths. As they look forward to feasting in the fullness of God’s presence, God wanted his people to long for his presence in a playful and beautiful way. God purposely invited his people to camp out every year to remind them of how he too, longs to dwell with them.
In what way can you enjoy God’s presence in a playful and beautiful way? Could you go camping or create an event with beautiful hospitality? Use your creativity to enjoy God’s presence today and remember how much he longs to dwell with you.