Stay At Home Study Guide- Feast of Tabernacles

Historical Background:

  • During the existence of the Jerusalem Temple, Sukkot” (the Feast of Tabernacles) was one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals on which the Israelites were commanded to perform a pilgrimage to the Temple.

  • A “sukkah” (a tabernacle) is the name of the temporary dwelling in which farmers would live during harvesting, a fact connected to the agricultural significance of the holiday. It is also intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus, when God provided for and protected his people. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many people sleep there as well.

  • The holiday lasts seven days in Israel. The first day is a Sabbath-like
    holiday when work is forbidden. This is followed by intermediate days when certain work is permitted. The festival is closed with another Sabbath-like holiday
    called
    “Shemini Atzeret.”

  • During Sukkot, two important ceremonies took place: (1) The Hebrew people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright candelabrum along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles. (2) The priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it to the temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar. The priest would call upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply. During this ceremony, the people looked forward to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Some records reference the day spoken of by the prophet Joel.

  • In the New Testament, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles and spoke these words on the last and greatest day of the Feast: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him(John 7:37-38). The next morning, while the torches were still burning, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV).

    Discussion Questions:

    1. Based on this information, how would you describe what this Feast represents? 2. Why do you think taking time to reflect on the meaning of this Feast is important? 3. How do you experience some of the values of this Feast in your own life? 4. Specifically, how do you experience rest and peace in your personal life, and how do you help to bring these values into the lives of others around you? 5. In a time of much hostility and division, what word/words can the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles speak to our society today? 6. What kind of rest do you ultimately hope for in the life to come? And how does this hope impact your life in the here and now?

    Scriptural Meditation:

Hebrews 4

Cheat Sheet:

(1) God’s deliverance, protection, provision, faithfulness, rest, peace; the promise of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the promise of the fulfillment of the Christian hope // (2) subjective answer // (3) subjective answer // (4) subjective answer // (5) each of the values listed from question #1 are applicable // (6) our eternal hope should give us peace and assurance in the here and now, but it should also motivate us to participate with the missional impulse of the Spirit of God in order to promote all of these beautiful values in our world today


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