The Feast of Booths/Coverings is only five days after the Day of Atonement. It is an eight-day sabbath, whereby, no one worked for profit and the Israelite community prepared feasts and animal skins daily. On the eighth day, they rested from their communal activities.
Unlike the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Booths is a holy observance designated only for Israel’s participation. (Lev. 23:42) It also specifies that Israel was to begin harvesting the “fruit of the trees” which were ripe and rejoice before Yahuwah for those seven days.
The Feast of Booths reminds me of how far we have come and how lost most of us are. We like to think that every “sabbath” is a day to sit around and be lazy (I know I do). In truth, this was never the meaning or purpose of sabbath. It meant to stop doing things one way and began doing them another. Or, if you will, to stop serving one purpose and began serving another.
What is a Sabbath?
Sabbaths are Yah’s prioritization of our lives. He designated certain days, times, and seasons to prioritize one thing over another. Particularly, our (Israel’s) own “souls” over the “souls” of others. If you notice, during harvest times, Israel only picked the “first fruits” of the harvest. So, what happened to the rest?
The seven weeks of harvesting grain at the beginning of the year, and the seven days of harvesting fruit during the final harvest season is Israel harvesting for themselves. That’s what sets these days apart from any other. On other days, Israel was harvesting crops to be sold and traded or working for others. However, on these holy, i.e. set-apart, days they harvested for their own wellbeing and their own people. Thus, the work that ceased was work that profited others outside of their community of Israelites and sojourners. The entire community had to stop doing profitable work and gather the first fruits of the harvest for themselves.
How do we offer something “unto Yahuah”?
This may sound suspicious since we read the first fruits was to be harvested and offered to Yahuwah. That is until we consider who the children of Israel are. We were and are created, covered, and led in service to the Most High. We are to be the messengers and vessels of Yahuwah, making us also the beneficiaries of what belongs to Him.
Yahushua (Jesus) tried to explain this to us. He said, “all that belongs to my father is mine.” (John 16:15) He then says in John 17:21, “let them be one with us like I am one with you.” Meaning, everything that belongs to Yahuwah also belongs to the Son, thus it belongs to His son, Israel. (Exodus 4:22)
The catch, since the Messiah came, is that no matter how much our mouths claim the inheritance, Israel can only know the way to their inheritance through Yahushua. Without him, we continue to fail in understanding and in becoming the image of our Father, which is indeed the inheritance we seek. We must become one with him to take our place as the firstborn son of Yah. There is no way around it!
God has been demonstrating the truths Yahushua (Jesus) came to make clear for us from the beginning of time. We’ve just been slow to catch on!
Regarding the sabbaths, if in fact on the seventh day, Yahuwah had actually “ceased” nothing would function. The earth would have ended on day seven of the creation. Rather, He ended His “work”. That is, He was done creating the world and everything in it and began to operate in a different capacity – maintaining his own souls. We see this in the shift of God’s focus as he interacts with his earthly creation after the sixth day. It wasn’t that he removed his hand from his creation and kicked his feet up to watch it all die, but that he began to serve a new purpose – maintaining his creation!
This feast also reminds us that in Israel’s days, reaping the harvest was a joyous and welcomed work that was shared amongst all of the people of Israel. The work that was to cease during this period was the day to day work, particularly for-profit business, but another kind of work was to take its place, the work of gathering the first fruits of the fall harvest.
According to Leviticus 23:43, Israel would sit in booths to know how our ancestors lived as captives when Yahuwah brought them out of Egyptian captivity.
As usual, Numbers 29 offers a detailed menu of food to be prepared. It does not refer to any other aspect of this feast, except the meticulous daily menu and brief instructions about the additional goat skins.
So, essentially, the Feast of Booths is the gathering of Israel’s own food and a celebration of a fruitful second harvest. They spend this time tending to their own needs instead of tending to the needs of everyone else, as is their regular function. Of the eight days of this observance, the first seven days are filled with gathering, food preparation, feasting, and celebrations. The eighth day is a feast day as well, but in it, there is no gathering fruit.
If you can, imagine an entire family of people picking the fruit of trees and plants they planted and storing them. The family spends most of the daylight hours gathering the fruit, and the evening eating and rejoicing in the day’s and season’s work. More importantly, it’s not “work” because it is for their own nourishment. It’s like going to the bathroom or grabbing a snack… Israel, being One, was to tend to each other’s needs as though they were one being. Thus, harvesting for their people was as an enjoyable an occasion, as going to your favorite restaurant.
During the feast, they stayed in tents made of goatskins the way their ancestors had in times past. The family recalled the days when they were in bondage and oppressed and rejoiced, not only in the fruit of their labors but freedom from bondage, which was made possible by their God. This was (and is) the Feast of Booths.
This is the time Yahuwah set apart for us to celebrate the fruits of our labor and of His. It’s a time to remember slavery and rejoice in freedom. It is also a perfect end to the story of God’s year!
The Feast of Booths represents the end of the harvest year because it is near the end of the final harvest season of the year. Nothing happens in the winter, including feast days! (No Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Year) With that, the Feast of Booths bids us farewell with a happy ending, until the Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Feast of First Fruits greet us again in the biblical new year!
This year, 2018, the Feast of Tabernacles will begin on Sunday, September 23, with the last day of the celebration on Sunday, September 30. A modern celebration would look much like a camping trip.
If you have a large group to celebrate with, you may find a state park and some tents and plan to stay for 8 days, reminiscing on how it was for ancestors and rejoicing in the reality that it is much easier for us now!
If you’re just a small family, then you may just camp out in your backyard for the week. The important thing is to remember and regard this time as a foreshadowing of things to come, preparation for something you will one day experience in its fullness. Accept that God’s word is not in vain and although we may not all understand where this is going, trust that Yahuwah is leading us to something! (Tip: You may find understanding about the foreshadowing of the Feast of Tabernacles in Revelations 19…)