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Series 4 - God's Plan for You and the Entire World: Unlocking the Secrets of God's Festivals

Hi, friends! Welcome to this lesson about the meaning of the biblical Feast of Tabernacles, a festival that Jesus Christ celebrated and that thousands of Christians still look forward to each year. What does this seven-day festival picture in God's plan of salvation? What does it mean for us today? We'll see that this sixth of the feasts of the Lord points us to the wonderful Millennium of peace and prosperity spoken of by so many of the prophets.

We pray this study will be inspiring and helpful to you. Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can serve you in any way.

Lesson 8: Feast of Tabernacles: Picturing the Millennium of Peace

The biblical Feast of Tabernacles has many lessons for Christians. Where does the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles fit in God's plan of salvation?

Feast of Tabernacles: Picturing the Millennium of PeaceWhat if you were camping in the mountains, and suddenly one of your friends, the leader of the group, started glowing—shining as brilliantly as the sun! And not only that, but two famous people from history suddenly appeared, maybe historical figures like George Washington and Winston Churchill. You'd remember that!

Near the end of his life, the apostle Peter remembered back to such a life-changing experience, the Transfiguration. "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).

Let's read the story of the Transfiguration as recounted in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 9:1-8, Good News Translation):

"And he went on to say, 'I tell you, there are some here who will not die until they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power.'

"Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. As they looked on, a change came over Jesus, and his clothes became shining white—whiter than anyone in the world could wash them. Then the three disciples saw Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, how good it is that we are here! We will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' He and the others were so frightened that he did not know what to say.

"Then a cloud appeared and covered them with its shadow, and a voice came from the cloud, 'This is my own dear Son—listen to him!' They took a quick look around but did not see anyone else; only Jesus was with them."

Peter, James and John were in vision "transported" into the future to see Christ in His glory in His Kingdom! It's interesting to note that Peter associated that time with tents or tabernacles.

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What Does the Bible Say About Tabernacles?

What is the sixth festival God commanded?

Leviticus 23:33-35
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it.'"

Tabernacles are booths or tents—temporary dwellings. This festival is also called the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16), focusing on its role as a celebration of the large autumn harvest in the Holy Land that foreshadows a large spiritual harvest.

Did Jesus Christ celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles?

John 7:1-3, 8-11
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.
Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.
His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing…"
"You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come."
When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.
But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, "Where is He?"

People expected Jesus to be at the Feast of Tabernacles because of His lifelong practice of celebrating God's festivals. Even when His life was threatened, He went to the Feast of Tabernacles anyway!

Who will keep the Feast of Tabernacles in the future?

Zechariah 14:16
And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

Though in Leviticus the festivals of God were specifically given to the nation of Israel, Zechariah shows that God wants all nations to celebrate and learn from His festivals.


What Does the Feast of Tabernacles Mean in God's Plan of Salvation?

We saw in the previous two lessons that the prophetic meaning of the Feast of Trumpets includes the return of Jesus Christ to become King of Kings, and the Day of Atonement includes the binding of Satan.

What is the next major prophetic event in the book of Revelation?

Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

This thousand-year period under Jesus Christ's perfect rule is sometimes called the Millennium, from the Latin word for 1,000 years. Other descriptions of this time of peace include the wonderful world tomorrow, the world beyond today and utopia.

What can humanity look forward to after Jesus Christ returns and Satan is removed?

Acts 3:19-21
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

Since the Garden of Eden, the world has been in bondage to Satan and sin. God longs to send Jesus Christ back to this earth to refresh it and to restore all things, especially His relationship with all people.

What will make things different in the Kingdom of God? What will cause peace?

Isaiah 2:2-4
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

Now humanity does not know the way of peace (Romans 3:17), but God's law is that way of peace (Psalm 119:165). If everyone respects others' life and property, honors parents and other authorities, doesn't lie or lust, many of the causes of conflict would cease. But the law teaches more than what not to do. The underlying principle is love (Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 13:8-10).

The law has been taught before. How will this time be different?

Hebrews 8:10
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Through God's Holy Spirit, people will be able to internalize God's perfect law (Ezekiel 36:26-27). This promise is not just for Israel, for God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).

Will God also miraculously reverse some of the effects of sin?

Isaiah 35:5-6
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.

Isaiah 61:1-3
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

Satan and sin are the ultimate cause of all evil and suffering. Often the sins of others cause suffering for innocent victims. How wonderful that Jesus Christ's rule in the Kingdom of God will be a time of physical and spiritual healing!

How does the abundance enjoyed by those celebrating this harvest festival picture its future fulfillment?

Deuteronomy 14:26
And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.

Amos 9:13
"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it."

Hebrews 2:10
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Saving a tenth of our income to celebrate God's festivals allows for a special time of abundance and enjoyment. This foreshadows not only the bountiful crops and prosperity of the world in God's Kingdom described by Amos, but the spiritual harvest of people to become the glorified children of God!

What are tabernacles, and what do they symbolize?

Leviticus 23:42-43
"You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."

Hebrews 11:13-14
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.

Tabernacles are tents or booths—temporary dwellings. Not only do they remind us of the Exodus from Egypt, they remind us that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Our physical lives can be compared to a tent or tabernacle (2 Corinthians 5:1-4). Late in his life Peter also used this analogy when he was thinking back about the Transfiguration, that glimpse he had seen of Jesus Christ in His spiritual glory in the Kingdom of God (2 Peter 1:14). As we saw in the introductory story, during the Transfiguration Peter made the connection between the Kingdom and tabernacles even when he didn't know what he was saying. The Feast of Tabernacles reminds us of the temporary nature of this physical life, and helps us focus on our quest for eternal life in God's Kingdom.

What will happen when Satan is released at the end of the Millennium?

Revelation 20:7-10
Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.
They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet [had been cast]. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

This sad chapter in human history reminds us of the deceptive power of Satan and shows that we and all people must fully internalize God's way and totally commit to loving God. If we give Satan even a small opening, he will take advantage of it. But if we, in faith and obedience, draw close to God, Satan will have to flee from us (James 4:7-8).

Finally Satan will be cast in the lake of fire and will no longer trouble God's people forever.

In spite of this reality check at the end of the Millennium, the overall meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles is very positive, joyous and wonderful. The seven-day Feast of Tabernacles pictures a vital step in God's plan of salvation that will set the stage for the final step, pictured by the Eighth Day we call the Last Great Day.


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The festivals of God are arranged on the Hebrew calendar. When does the Feast of Tabernacles fall this year? Click on this link for the Holy Day calendar. Also take a look at our Feast of Tabernacles resource page to find out more about how the United Church of God celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles today.

If you have questions about the Feast of Tabernacles site closest to you or other practical or spiritual questions, you can find and contact our pastor nearest you by looking up the U.S. UCG congregation nearest you. Outside the United States, see this list of UCG congregations by country.

We hope we will be able to share this wonderful time of celebration with you!

Next Lesson: Last Great Day: Hope for All Who Have Ever Lived

Questions about this lesson? Feedback about this lesson?

Related Resources:

The Feast of Tabernacles: Jesus Christ Reigns Over All the Earth from the booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind

The Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ

Coming Soon: The Magnificent Millennium

The Feast of Peace

Why should Christians celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles?

Dates for the Annual Festivals of God This Year

How should a Christian today celebrate the annual festivals observed by Jesus Christ and the apostles?

God's Law of Love: Making Life Work

The Earth: Real Utopia Is Coming!

The Millennium and Peace on Earth!

Refreshing News: God's Government Is Coming!

A Return to Eden: When Hunger and Disease Disappear

The Wonderful World Beyond Today: A New Way of Thinking