The Lord's Feasts are so meaningful and life changing. The Feast of Tabernacles is the final and most important holiday of the year. You can get an idea of the importance of this festival because of the statement, "This is to be a lasting ordinance." The divine pronouncement is given: "I am the Lord your God," concludes the section on the holidays of the seventh month.
The Feast of Tabernacles begins five days after Yom Kippur on the fifteenth of Tishri (normally in September or October). The greatest and most drastic change occurs between Yom Kippur and Tabernacles. We go from the most solemn of the holidays in our year to the most joyous. The word Sukkot means "booths," and refers to the temporary dwellings the Israelites were commanded to live in during this season. It was to be a reminder of how the children of Israel dwelt in the wilderness for 40 years when they came out of Egypt. Sukkot, or Tabernacles lasts for seven days and ends on the twenty-first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, which is Israel's seventh month.
Sukkot, Booths, or Tabernacles has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. It is very similar to what we know and celebrate at Passover and Shavuot. Historically, it was to be kept in remembrance of the dwelling in tents in the wilderness. Agriculturally, it was also the season of the fruit harvest, the 'ingathering'. This is all very deep and meaningful and is expounded on in Leviticus 23:43, "That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD."
The children of Israel were to remember what the Lord did on Sukkot. They were to remember:
1.) The hardness of their beginning, and the low and desolate state out of which Yahweh advanced them. Note: Those that are living comfortably today ought to often be reminded of their former, unsaved and unsettled world. Humble pie tastes good to the humble of heart. It is good to recall from where we really came from.
2.) The mercy of our Lord. How Yahweh kept His children when they dwelt in booths in the wilderness. Adonai not only set up a tabernacle for Himself among them, but, with the utmost care and tenderness imaginable, He even hung a canopy over them, so the cloud would shelter them from the heat of the sun. We really do need to be reminded in our days of how we have been kept in the center of God's eye and purpose.
The eighth day of Tabernacles (Simchat Torah) ends this great Feast of the Lord with a bang. Simchat Torah is the day of this holiday where the Israelites would return to their own houses again, and renew their lives in the Lord. This is the day where the Torah scroll is rolled again to its beginning. We start anew the next year of living in, and studying God's Word.
Think on it now in it's totality: After living in tents in the wilderness, Israel came to a happy settlement in the land of promise, where they dwelt in permanent houses. God's blessing was upon His people. You would think the followers of Messiah would, then and now, more sensibly value and be thankful for the comforts and conveniences of their homes.
Remembering how our people once dwelt in booths, tents and huts in a wilderness, and now after having dwelt in booths for seven days we should have an understanding on what the Lord is trying to tell us. It is good for those that have had ease and plenty to be reminded of how hard life can be. Maybe this is why some people enjoy camping? God's people though; who have been through the wilderness, should never let our wilderness experiences escape our memory.
As for the harvest, Israel was to keep this holiday in thankfulness to Yahweh's wonderful increase for the past year. Remember, Israel was a very agricultural nation. The difference, however, between this harvest festival and that of the surrounding nations was that there was always an emphasis in the Fall Feasts upon Israel's life which rested upon the Lord's redemption, and the meaning of His forgiveness of sin. From making teshuavah on Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur to the Feast of Tabernacles, God's people see the full scope of His provision and total redemption for those that are His. We are TOTALLY saved! Let us rejoice and be glad!