Sukkot: Feast of Tabernacles
Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) remembers God’s goodness to the fledgling nation of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness for 40 years to the promised land. Without a permanent home, they depended on God to provide for all their needs. Sukkot is a Hebrew word meaning huts or temporary shelters. During this Feast, households construct a Sukkah outside with palm branches for the roof and spend as much time as possible in it, eating meals and inviting friends and family to come and enjoy the Feast with them. The insides of the Sukkot are decorated with twinkling lights and garlands, with fruit (especially pomegranates) and scriptures.
Sukkot also celebrates with thanksgiving the ingathering of the autumn harvest at the end of the year which includes wheat, olives, grapes, dates, figs and pomegranates
During the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, Sukkot was one of the three pilgrimage feasts during which the people of Israel went up to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple and present their offerings to the Lord.
"Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread [Passover], the Festival of Weeks [Pentecost] and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you." - Deuteronomy 16:16
The Gospel of John mentions the Feast of Tabernacles in chapter 7. It records Jesus travelling up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast and mentions him teaching in the Temple courts. It describes how “On the last and greatest day of the feast Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
At that time there was a Sukkot tradition of drawing water from the pool of Siloam. Everyday of the feast the priests would collect the spring water in a golden pitcher amidst much celebration, singing and dancing. Returning to the Temple, the priest would pour out the precious water near the altar. An expression of dependence on God to send the much needed rain after the long, dry summer and of the cleansing of sins.
Comparing physical thirst to spiritual thirst, Jesus offered the promised Holy Spirit to anyone who would believe in Him. The people had sung the words of Isaiah 12:3: “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” Jesus declared himself at that moment to be the source of that life-giving salvation. In response some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Messiah.”
The following excerpt is from: God’s Goodness Through The Biblical Holidays by Melanie Moscovich. Life Publications, 2020 https://mmmoscovich.wixsite.com/book