Sukkot is known in English as “the Feast of Booths” or “Tabernacles.” It is the capstone of the appointed times that occur in the Fall (Lev 23:23-43). On Sukkot, Israel is called to celebrate before the Lord with four species of plants (Lev 23:40), and to dwell in booths (tabernacles, shelters, huts)—in Hebrew “sukkot”—for seven days (Lev 23:42).
The purpose of dwelling in booths is for the people of Israel to remember that they dwelt in booths in the desert after God brought them out of Egypt (Lev 23:43). In the Torah, Sukkot is also called “the Feast of Ingathering” (Ex 23:16; 34:22) because in the ancient near east it marked the gathering of wine and grain into vats and storehouses in preparation for the winter months (Deut 16:13).
Already in biblical times, Sukkot was connected with the themes of the Temple (I Kings 8), God’s light (Zech 14:6-7), God’s abundance (symbolized by rain and streams of living waters; Zech 14:8, 17-18), and the future glory of the kingdom of God (Zech 14:9-20). We find some of these themes in Yeshua’s teaching during Sukkot (John 7:37-39), and in the book of Revelation (7:9-10). It is no wonder that rabbinic literature calls Sukkot “He-hag”—literally, The Festival—and refers to it as “z’man simhateinu”—“the season of our joy.”
In short, Sukkot is as happy as it gets.
Every appointed time and festival has its distinct features, but there is one strikingly unique reference to Sukkot in the Tanakh:
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 Booths (Zech 14:16).
Wait a minute! The nations will celebrate Sukkot? The prophet envisions the nations that enter into the kingdom of the Messiah making an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to worship Adonai. Their worship will include observing Sukkot.
Let’s just say we don’t find anything quite like this connected to any of the other major feasts. Perhaps because Sukkot represents the pinnacle of rejoicing in God’s sheltering presence, it is the one holiday that one day all humanity will gather to celebrate.
I don’t know what exactly those international Sukkot celebrations in the kingdom of Messiah Yeshua will look like. I have a lot of questions about that. But, here is what I do know by faith. Yeshua will be reigning on his throne in Jerusalem. Israel will be in the land, and Yeshua’s own Jewish people will be thriving there in a restored relationship with him. At long last, Israel will be reflecting the light and truth of the living God outward to the nations that have come under his righteous reign. Those nations will be drawn to Yeshua, to the remnant of Israel, and to Jerusalem—especially for Sukkot.
There is an essential prerequisite to the fulfillment of this compelling vision: reconciliation between the remnant of Israel, and the people from the nations that call Yeshua their king. If there is no reconciliation, there is no fulfillment of Zechariah’s vision.
In my view, the work of TJCII is preparing the body of Messiah for this future prophetic scene. Through TJCII, barriers between Jew and Gentile in the body of Messiah are crumbling. Denominations and significant movements in the church are repudiating historical errors that helped erect the barriers. They are affirming the identity, role, and calling of Messianic Jews.
Through the labor of prayer and repentance, TJCII continues to increase in breadth and depth. The unity we see resulting from TJCII’s work gives us a foretaste of the ultimate ingathering under God’s sheltering presence.
TJCII gives me cause for great hope and confidence that together Jews and Gentiles in the body of Messiah are in fact headed toward the throne of Messiah Yeshua in Jerusalem!
By Rabbi Seth N. Klayman, Ph. D.