A Holiday for ALL Nations
Did you know that there is a holiday about which the Lord prophesied that ALL nations would one day celebrate? This won’t really be a “take it or leave it” kind of a thing! It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, or which spiritual traditions you might have inherited – the Scriptures proclaim that all nations will celebrate this holiday together in the future!
So, what could this overarching, universal holiday be? Your knee-jerk reaction might be to guess either Christmas or Easter, but it is none other than the Jewish festival of Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles or Booths)!
Zechariah 14:16 prophesies, “Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”
During Sukkot the Jewish people were commanded to gather together in Jerusalem to remember God’s provision for them in the wilderness and how He tabernacled with them. But they were to also look forward to the promised Messianic age when all nations would stream to Jerusalem to worship the Lord in their midst!
God Dwelled with Israel
So, what exactly is the Feast of Sukkot? It is the last of the three pilgrimage feasts (Passover and Shavuot being the other two). The biblical mandate to celebrate Sukkot is outlined in Leviticus 23:33-43, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to YHVH… On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days…It is a statute forever throughout your generations… You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Sukkot is just as fun as it is profound. The tell-tale sign that the holiday is underway are the sukkahs (booths) that one can spot outside Jewish homes for the seven days of the holiday. People traditionally decorate these temporary dwellings with harvest fruits, lights, and lots of color. They “dwell” in them for seven days just as the Lord commanded, to commemorate their time in the wilderness. Yet even in that time of disobedience and punishment in the wilderness, God still dwelt in a tabernacle of His own amongst His people. He never left them! It is fitting that He would one day name His son Immanuel – God with us – who would take on our sin, as well as conquer it!
Fittingly, Sukkot is a holiday in which Gentiles who joined themselves to Israel were always welcome to celebrate alongside them! The Lord directed Moses to gather all men, women and children, along with the foreigners in their land, so they could learn to fear YHVH (Deut. 31:12). God was already training Israel to be a light to the nations as thy taught them to celebrate this “appointed time” together!
The Lord is so serious about unity between Israel and the nations during this feast that in the future, the simple invitation to join in celebrating Sukkot will turn into a command. YHVH prophesied that in those coming days there will be repercussions to those nations who refuse. He said there “shall be punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:19)
God Will Dwell with ALL Mankind
In the book of Revelation we look forward to a somewhat constant Sukkot celebration, when God will once again dwell on the earth with mankind!
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3–4).
The powerful image of the sukkah, or booth, has served to commemorate God’s dwelling amongst His chosen people in the wilderness and His invitation to the Gentiles to dwell with Him alongside Israel. But we also long to see the future fulfillment of this symbol—wherein He will return to dwell amongst the whole body of Messiah together, forever!
Now that is something worth celebrating!