Sukkot Sameach (Happy Sukkot)
The third, and final, of the Fall Feasts (mow-eh-DEEM) is called Sukkot (sue-COAT). Sukkot
means “booths.” Sukkah is the singular “booth.” Sukkot occurs this year from the eve of October 4,
2017, to October 12, 2017 (which includes a special yearly eight day holy convocation). This special
feast of the Lord has various names, indicative of its many-faceted richness and prophetic significance.
It is Hag HaSukkot (Feast of Tabernacles or Booths), Hag HaAsif (Feast of Ingathering or Harvest),
HaHag (The Feast), and Zeman Simchateinu (zeh-MAHN sim-kha-TAY-nu), the Season of our
Rejoicing or Joy.
The Hebrew word for feast, chag (pronounced khog), comes from a root which means to dance or
be joyous. If you are ever going to get out your spiritual dancing shoes, now’s the time!
Sukkot is not only one of the fall feasts, but it is also one of the three Shalosh Regalim (sha-
LOWSH reh-gah-LEEM), or Pilgrim Feast, commanded by God in Exodus 23:14,16. The Lord
instructed Moses concerning Sukkot in Leviticus 23:34-44, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying,
‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord‘”
(vs. 34). “…on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest” (vs. 39).
Sukkot: The Feast of God’s Faithfulness
The faithfulness of God is a major theme of Sukkot. The reason is found in the Torah: “You
shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, ‘that your
generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the
land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.‘” (Leviticus 23:42-43)
For forty years, wandering in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, God provided for
His people. Their clothes and shoes did not wear out, water and food were supernaturally provided for
them, and God’s Presence was with them in a very tangible way, through cloud and fire, day and night.
Intimacy in the wilderness—we experience it as well, as we travel through this wilderness called the
world, on our way to a Promised Land called Heaven.
Our God is Faithful to cover and protect us. We are safer and more secure in a flimsy booth with
God than in an Egyptian palace without Him! Psalm 27:5 says it well, “For in the time of trouble He
shall hide me in His pavilion (Hebrew: sukkah סכה ). In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide
It is interesting to note that the first letter of the word sukkot ( ס) is a samech (SAH-meck). Samech
is a closed, round letter, which in traditional Hebrew thought, represents the idea of Divine support,
both in the sense of God supporting man, and the sense of man relying on God. We rely on God’s
faithfulness. The closed circle of samech is also thought to remind us of God’s protection, as in
Zechariah 2:5, where the LORD promises to be a wall of fire around His children, and the glory in their
Sukkot: The Feast of Joy
Security in God leads to joy. There is actually a triple commandment in the Torah to rejoice during
Sukkot: “…you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40). “And you
shall rejoice in your feast…” (Deuteronomy 16:14). “…the LORD your God will bless you in all your
produce and all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice” (Deuteronomy 16:15).
Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy can be commanded, just as love (“You shall love…“) can be commanded,
because joy is a decision, as well as an emotion. If we have no other reason to rejoice as Messianic
believers, there is one undeniable reason for joy. As Yeshua said to His talmidim, His disciples, He
says to us: “…rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
We have passed through Yom Teruah (repentance), and Yom Kippur (atonement), and have
entered into Sukkot (the joy of dwelling with God now and forever). In Yeshua, we experience the joy of
sins forgiven, as well as the joy of having access to the Presence of our King every day. Our God not
only dwells with us, but He also dwells in us through the Messiah. We can say, along with King David,
“…In Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
We also have a promise of Yeshua concerning joy, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy
may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
Sukkot: The Feast of Waving Palms
There is a biblical command to wave palm branches at Sukkot, “And you shall take for yourselves
on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and
willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days” (Leviticus
Four species are mentioned in this verse (Arba Minim, in Hebrew, AR-bah me-NEEM): the palm
branch, myrtle, willow, and citron (a lemon-like fruit called the etrog in Hebrew, EH-trog). Today, the
three branches are bundled together and waved as a unity, simply called the lulav (LOO-lahv), or palm.
The etrog is held in the left hand, the lulav in the right.
In Temple times, prayers for redemption were recited each day of Sukkot while the lulav was
waved, as worshipers made a circuit around the altar of the Temple. Seven circuits were made on
the seventh day. Prayers from Psalm 118 were of prime importance. This psalm is the conclusion of
the Hallel (Praise) Psalms. It connects Messiah to Tabernacles, since the verses speak of light, leafy
branches and joyful pilgrims shouting “Hoshiana” (English: Hosanna, or “Save now!”). Picture Jewish
men, during Sukkot, waving their lulavim (loo-lah-VEEM) and praying, “Save now, I pray, O LORD,
O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!…God is
the LORD, and He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” (Psalm
118:25-27). The JPS Tanakh translates Psalms 118:27 as follows: “The LORD is God, and hath given
us light; order the festival procession with boughs, even unto the horns of the altar.” A Sukkot verse for
Now picture Yeshua, the Messiah, riding on a donkey into Jerusalem. The crowd had cut down
palm branches (lulavim) and were waving them before Him. Psalm 118 was being fulfilled, as God’s
People Israel welcomed their long-expected Messiah and King, the One they had prayed for each
Sukkot as they waved their palms and circled the altar. They cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!‘” (Matthew 21:9). The
answer to their prayers had come.
Psalm 118:26 will again be proclaimed in Jerusalem at Messiah’s second coming: “Baruch haBa
b’shem Adonai” (Ba-ROOKH haBAH b’SHEM Ah-doe-NYE). “Blessed is He who comes in the name of
the LORD!” (Luke 13:35).
Waving palms had long been a sign of victory. Many of us, as Messianic Jews, wave our palm
branches as we march around our temple building seven times praising God for our victory in Yeshua.
It reminds us of the Israelites who marched around Jericho (the “City of Palms”), seven times, and
were victorious, as the walls of Jericho fell down. We also remember the eight day celebration of the
Maccabees in 165 BC, who marched around the rededicated temple in Jerusalem, chanting Psalm
118, carrying palm branches. A second Sukkot?
Wave your lulav! Proclaim salvation and prosperity (Psalms 118:25). Wave it to the north, south,
east, and west. Wave it up to heaven and down to the depths of the earth. Proclaim the eternal
sovereignty of God over all the earth. If you don’t have palm trees where you live (as we do!), use
another kind of branch. The blessing is as follows: “Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam,
asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al netilat lulav.” Wave your lulav while saying, “Oh, give thanks to
the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).
Waving palms is part of our rehearsal for Revelation 7: “After these things I looked, and behold,
a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing
before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to
the Lamb’…for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living
fountains of waters, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:9-10, 17).
Sukkot: The Inclusive Feast
Sukkot has never been a feast exclusively for Israel. in Temple times, there were large numbers of
sacrifices during each day of the Feast, more than any other time of the Jewish year. Seventy bullocks
were even offered up as an atonement for the seventy nations of the world (the Gentiles)! Talmudic
writings attributed this to God’s concern for the Gentiles, and Israel’s role in world redemption. As the
Feast of Ingathering, Sukkot looks forward to the ingathering of all nations to the God of Israel—a final
harvest of souls for His Kingdom.
The traditional Bible reading on the second day of Sukkot is taken from Zechariah 14 and
highlights the role of the Gentile nations during Yeshua’s future earthly reign. All nations, not only
Jews, will be required to go up to Jerusalem to worship the King and to celebrate Sukkot: “And it
shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go
up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles”
(Zechariah 14:16; see also verse 17).
Sukkot: The Eternal Feast
Sukkot is an everlasting ordinance. The Lord made this clear in His instructions concerning
Sukkot, “You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute
forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month” (Leviticus 23:41).
When Yeshua returns, He will reign over the earth for 1,000 years from Jerusalem (the
“Millennium”). At that time, there will be a special millennial sukkah on earth, as prophesied by Isaiah:
“Then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a
cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be
a covering (huppah in Hebrew). And there will be a tabernacle (sukkah in Hebrew) for shade in the
daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from the storm and rain” (Isaiah 4:5-6).
Gods eternal sukkah will be like a wedding canopy over His beloved bride.
We can look forward to a supernatural glory-covering over God’s chosen city, Jerusalem. No
matter what the present looks like, Jerusalem has a glorious future, according to the Holy Scriptures, in
the day that the Lord is King over the whole earth, one Lord, and His name one (Zechariah 14:9).
Sukkot: The Birthday Feast
Although Yeshua never told us to celebrate His birthday, but rather to remember His death (very
Jewish—His “yahrzeit“), the incarnation is a crucial doctrine of our Messianic faith. “And the Word
was made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The Eternal Son of God took on a human
body (an earthly sukkah) to identify with sinful man and become our atonement. He was placed in a
humble feeding trough for animals—manger in English, sukkah in Hebrew (Genesis 33:17). Internal
Scriptural evidence suggests that Messiah was born in the fall, most probably during Sukkot. We know
that He was not born in the winter because shepherds and sheep would not be living out in the fields
(Luke 2:8). The approximate time of Yeshua’s birth can be calculated, beginning with the assigned
course that Zachariah, the father of John the Immerser, served in the Temple, since John’s conception
and Yeshua’s conception are linked biblically.
It makes sense that there would be “no room at the inn” during he inn” during Sukkot, since all male Israelites
were required to go up to Jerusalem for the Feast. It was also common to declare tax times during a
Temple feast, since pilgrims would be traveling at that time.
Many believers, like us, celebrate Yeshua’s coming to earth during Sukkot. We also remember
that our own bodies are temporary sukkot. We are just passing through this world with a treasure in
our earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Sukkot: The Feast of Living Water
When the Temple existed, Sukkot celebrations included a “Water Drawing Ceremony,” during which
water from the Pool of Siloam was poured out on the altar, amidst Hallel Psalms and prayers for the
coming year’s rain. The ceremony was also considered a symbolic representation of a future outpouring
of the Holy Spirit, referring to Isaiah 12:3, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of
salvation” (KJV). The Targum, a rabbinic commentary, interprets this verse as referring to Messiah.
On Hoshanna Rabba, the Day of the Great Hosanna, the final day of Sukkot celebrations, Yeshua
made an astounding proclamation. He said that He was the fulfillment of the Water Drawing Ceremony: “On
the last day, that great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come
to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living
water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive…” (Jn 7:37-39).
Yes, Yeshua is the source of living water, mayim chaim (MAH-yeem KHA-yeem) for all who come
to Him to drink (Isaiah 55:1). He is the Well of “Salvation” (yeshuah in Hebrew).
May the Lord pour out His Spirit on you this Sukkot!
Love in Yeshua,