Peering into the future beyond the cataclysmic end time events, Zechariah the prophet foretells that there is coming a time when all the nations of the earth will go up to Jerusalem ‘year by year… to keep the Feast of Tabernacles’ (Zec 14:16).
His prophecy leads us to ask the question, why will the nations of the world be celebrating this particular feast on the Jewish calendar?
What is the Feast of Tabernacles?
Known in Hebrew as ‘the season of our joy’, Tabernacles is a unique celebration where God’s people are divinely mandated to rejoice. During the days of Jesus, the Temple was a focal point of this 7-day celebration of the harvest. The festivities would see the Temple lit up with giant 25-meter-high candelabras. Sacrifices and signing would fill each day, and in the evening, respected men of faith would dance, sing and even juggle flaming torches until late at night. For those who have never seen this celebration, the rabbis say, it is as if they have ‘never seen joy in their lives’ (Talmud Sukkah 51b).
A Prophetic Calendar
The feasts God gave to Israel through Moses are not just celebrations of past events but are also prophetic of future events. The first 4 feasts on the calendar were literally and to the day fulfilled by Jesus’ 1st coming, and many scholars therefore believe that the remaining feasts lay out the final sequence of events surrounding His 2nd coming.
The Feast of Tabernacles is the last of these celebrations, and it points to the great joy and the rejoicing there will be when God finally dwells (tabernacles) among His people.
While we can look forward to this great celebration, the prophets of the Bible all agree that a time of tremendous trouble is coming to earth before we reach this glorious end. The Feast immediately prior to Tabernacles is the ‘Day of Atonement’, in which the entire nation of Israel as one fasts and prays seeking God for forgiveness. Piecing this together with End Time prophecy, I believe that Israel will in the End Times face a time of great trial and persecution by the nations of the world, leading to her national repentance. This will in turn lead to the Messiah’s return and a time of unparalleled rejoicing.
But what about the Gentile Nations?
When the Lord finally intervenes on behalf of Israel, Zechariah predicts that He will seek to ‘destroy’ the nations that had so viciously come against Jerusalem (Zec 12:9). It as the judgment of God begins to fall on the nations, that I believe the Feast of Tabernacles will find it ultimate prophetic role.
During this feast, the Jewish people are commanded year by year to sacrifice a total of 70 bulls. The number 70 represents all the nations of the world (linked to the 70 descendants of Noah in Gen. 10:32). As such, as God’s wrath in the End Times is coming upon the Gentile persecutors of Israel, the nation of Israel will be sacrificing for those nations. Like Moses of old, they will stand in intercession for God to spare the nations who have so recently been responsible for dreadful persecution of Israel. This intercessory prayer of Israel will apparently be heard and many from the nations will be spared.
The End Time event concludes with Jesus’ Return and the restoration and forgiveness of not only Israel but also of the nations. It is no wonder then that those from the nations ‘who are left’ (Zec 14:9) will join Israel in the annual celebration of Tabernacles. Then this Feast will truly be the time ‘of greatest joy’ as all of mankind will together worship and rejoice before the God of Israel.
Enoch Lavender was born in Australia, raised in Norway, spent time living in China and is now based in Melbourne, Australia. He has been studying Hebrew and the Jewish roots of our faith for the past decade, and has a keen interest in the Middle East from a Bible prophecy perspective.