Every year at Christmas we are reminded that God came to Earth to dwell with humanity. Likewise, the Jewish holiday Sukkot, also called the Feast of Tabernacles, is a time to remember when God dwelled with people, specifically His Chosen People, in the Old Testament. This holiday celebrates God’s presence among the Israelites during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. God commanded them to live in temporary shelters during this week-long holiday.
Today the Jewish people don’t live in these booths they construct and connect to their homes, but they do eat in them to observe the holiday. Sukkot celebrates the very close presence of God in the Israelites’ lives, but we who believe in Jesus have the very same reason to celebrate: We have the Holy Spirit living in us at all times! You’ll get the whole scope of Sukkot in this week’s program, the conclusion of our three-part series highlighting the fall feasts of Israel.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover, and with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. We have a great show for you today, but before Chris comes, I'd like to encourage you to visit our website at FOIradio.org. On our website, you'll find trustworthy and accurate news on Israel and the Middle East. While there, you can support our ministry by clicking on the donate button to help us continue teaching biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. Again, visit us at FOIradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, today on the program we're going to be wrapping up our fall feast series that we've been doing. We've looked at Rosh Hashanah, we've looked at Yom Kippur. Today, we're going to be looking at the Feast of Tabernacles, the last of the Jewish holidays for the year, and also, really the last culminating event when it comes to what the Jewish people will be celebrating. And you know what? I'm really excited about this. Toward the end, we're going to talk about how these fall feasts should be seen in light of what's happening prophetically in God's Word as well. So I think our listeners should stick around for that. I think it's going to be really exciting.
Now, listen, we love our podcast listeners, but we also love our radio listeners. I recently received a very kind letter from Janet, from Charleston, Illinois, who wrote this. She said, "Please convey my thanks to Chris Katulka who hosts The Friends of Israel Today radio program over VCY America each Saturday. I like his enthusiasm..." Janet, I like yours too. She says, "I like his enthusiasm in the work of the Lord. Happy Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Gratefully, Janet."
Well happy Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Chag Sameach to you and for our upcoming Feast of Tabernacles, as well for the next seven days as the Jewish people are celebrating that. Listen, if you listen on the radio program, please write in. Let us know that you're listening. You can write in at FOI Radio, PO Box 1156, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. And also, just a fresh reminder, for our podcast listeners that you can do it right online by listening. You can rate and comment on our program, which helps us greatly, especially on Apple. So thank you so much to our radio and podcast listeners.
Steve Conover: In the news, Israel's government imposed its second national lockdown last Friday amid rising COVID cases. Under the new rules, nearly all businesses will be closed with the exception of those deemed essential. Certain Orthodox rabbis are encouraging the Israeli community to honor one of Israel's most high Holy days, Yom Kippur, at home.
Chris Katulka: Steve, I know Israelis are not excited about this at all. They've already been locked up once earlier with a lockdown in the beginning of COVID and they were opening up and now, they're going back into a lockdown. And they should take it seriously. Remember, we think in terms of the United States. The US is very... It's a large country. We have freedom to move around between the states. Israel on the other hand, is extremely small and they typically don't travel to Syria, they have no reason to, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt. The only way really Israelis get out of Israel is by flying.
So, Benjamin Netanyahu is taking some serious steps to make sure that the rising number of COVID cases don't become a national disaster. His critics on the other hand, believe that he's trying to silence protestors who have literally been outside of his residence protesting his corruption charges, economic issues and the handling of the pandemic. So yes, we pray for our nations when it comes to COVID. Let's continue to lift up our Israeli friends as well.
We've arrived at our last fall feast of Israel. Over the course of the last two weeks, we've journeyed together through Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. The day that kick-starts a time of reflection in God's judgment. What we learned about the 10 days of awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a time of continued reflection as Jewish people correct their unrighteous deeds that they performed over the past year. And then on Yom Kippur, one of Israel's most solemn festivals, it's the day that God forgives Israel's sins. And you can read about that in Leviticus, chapter 16 and Leviticus chapter 23.
Look, if you didn't get a chance to listen to the last two episodes, you can simply go to FOIradio.org and you can listen to the Rosh Hashanah episode. You can listen to the Yom Kippur episode. You'll find it on our archives page. And really, if you want to listen to any episode that we've been doing for the past five years, you can go to FOIradio.org. You can also hear from Bruce Scott. We did an interview with him not long ago. He's the author of the book, "The Feasts of Israel," a book that we're going to share about in a moment. Go to FOIradio.org.
Now starting Friday, October 2nd, and lasting for one full week will be the Jewish festival of the Feast of Tabernacles. In Hebrew it's called Sukkot, or booths. That's what it's called. That's what Sukkot means, booths. When Jewish people all around the world will literally build little booths that are connected to their homes. It's cute. The Jewish people are called by God to live in these temporary shelters for one week in order, the reason they do this is, in order to remember the faithfulness of God when he led Israel through the wilderness. Listen to what Leviticus chapter 23 verses 42 and 43 says. "You must live in temporary shelters for seven days. Every native citizen in Israel must live in temporary shelters so that your future generations may know that I made the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God."
Now listen, today, Jewish people don't pack up their homes and move the whole family into these little tiny booths. But you know what they do? They eat in them. They'll set up a table and they'll eat in the booth at night and they'll be together as a family over the course of the next seven days. I'll never forget being invited by an Orthodox Jewish family to eat a Sukkot dinner with them in their little tent off the side of their home in Brooklyn, New York. I'm going to tell you, it was close quarters, but it was just tons of fun.
And I actually remember being invited inside a house with all the lights turned off. It was an Orthodox family. And this Orthodox man was telling me about a family member spending the night and how dark it was in his house, and he kept going on and on about it until finally, I just turned the light on for him because I couldn't see where I was going. And then he said, "Thanks." And then we went back outside to the group again. It sounds confusing, but that particular Jewish man, he was using me that day. He wasn't allowed to turn on a light for Sabbath or for certain holy days like the Feast of Tabernacles. So I became the Gentile to do his work and I was honored to help. It was a good time.
Well, back to the text. God wanted the Israelites to return to those little booths, those little tents year after year so future generations could feel and know how God's presence led them through the wilderness, how his presence with their ancestors provided for them, the food and the clothing and really, the guidance through the wilderness. For the Israelites, the presence of God was real. It was a real and present reality in Israel's life when God led them out of Egypt. He wasn't this distant ethereal divinity who only lived in the heavens. God was Israel's true source of life in the wilderness. The Lord walked with Israel through the desert and saved them from their enemies, fed them when they were hungry, housed them in the wilderness, quenched their thirst when they were thirsty. His presence was real and it was a real present reality for Israel. And the Feast of Tabernacles was designed to be that reminder over and over, year after year, to remind Israel to focus on that truth, that no matter where they are, God's presence is real, a real and present reality.
Even today, the Feast of Tabernacles appeared in the New Testament as well, actually. There are three Jewish holidays where Jewish people are required to be in Jerusalem to celebrate them. The first was Passover. The second was Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, which is also called Pentecost in Acts chapter two. And then there is the Feast of Tabernacles. Each of these holidays center around a harvest time. The Feast of Tabernacles is a special harvest, actually. See, the other two harvests are centered around wheat or barley for bread, what sustains life, but the harvest for the Feast of Tabernacles is when the grapes for wine and eating are picked. It's the time olives and pomegranates and figs are to be harvested. It's that sweet time of the year for harvesting, and that's why this time of the year is also called the Feast of Ingathering. It's really a great time to celebrate.
Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles marks a transition in Israel's calendar. The fall season is coming to a close and the rain is fast approaching. So rain is absolutely necessary. So as a part of Sukkot, what the tradition was during the days of Jesus was this drama of a water drawing ceremony. It was very dramatic. A Levitical priest would take water from the pool of Siloam and bring it up to the temple and pour that water out on the altar. It was a water libation and the picture wasn't that God would just bring water, but that the Holy Spirit would rain down upon the people of Israel. It's a beautiful picture during this water libation offering at the altar in the temple, toward the end of the Feast of Tabernacles this happened, that actually Jesus stands up in John chapter seven, verses 37 and 39, and he says this, a verse that I'm sure you all know very well.
John chapter seven, verse 37, "On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and let the one who believes in me drink.' Just as the scripture says, from within him will flow rivers of living water." Verse 39, "Now, he said this about the spirit whom those who believed in him were going to receive for the spirit had not yet been given because Jesus was not yet glorified."
Listen, water is a precious commodity in the Middle East. I'm sure you all know that, but the reason that they are pouring water out on the altar is as an offering in hope and anticipation for the water that will come during the rainy season for the crops and to have water to drink and to survive. Water is such a vital part of any creature's life. And without it, you're lifeless. Here, Jesus is saying they're offering this incredible water libation. In Hebrew, it's called the Nisuch ha-Mayim. That only through Christ, will one find true satisfaction when they drink from the living waters. And Jesus is actually pointing to the fact that not only is he the source of the water, but that the living water will flow like rivers from within. The image, the picture of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the life of a believer in Christ.
Because remember, during this time as that priest, that Levitical priest is bringing that water up from the pool of Siloam and he's bringing it to altar and pouring it out, it's not only an image of the rain coming to provide for Israel, it's also the picture of the Spirit of God being poured out on Israel. So the Feast of Tabernacles is a fresh reminder that just as God was with Israel and tabernacled with them in the wilderness, that Jesus Christ himself tabernacled among us, that he's with us, even in our own wilderness, even in our darkest times. Just remember, John 1:14 actually tells us that when Jesus was born, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He tabernacled with us. God's presence came, a beautiful picture of the Feast of Tabernacles in the life of Christ.
Next, I want to share what these fall feasts, as we pull back here for a moment. I want to share about these fall feasts and what they mean prophetically, God's prophetic word. But before we get there, I want to connect you with a valuable resource here at the Friends of Israel. It's actually Bruce Scott's book, "The Feasts of Israel." I hope that this series has been an encouragement to you, that you've been able to see the importance of the fall feasts of Israel, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the Feast of Tabernacles. How they are mentioned in Leviticus chapter 23 is God ordained them for Israel, how Jesus celebrated them because remember, Jesus was Jewish. These were the celebrations that he honored, the holidays that he honored, but then also how they apply to our lives as believers today.
We're not called to celebrate these holidays. We don't have to do it, but I'll tell you something. Knowing what they mean and how Israel worshipped God through them only is an encouragement to us as believers in the Lord Jesus. So if you would like to learn more about the feasts of Israel, not just the fall feasts, but the whole religious calendar for the Jewish people, from Passover to the Feast of Tabernacles, I want to encourage you to get Bruce Scott's book. It's a resource I use yearly all the time whenever I'm studying the Jewish feasts of Israel. And Steve, can you let our listeners know how they can get a copy of Bruce Scott's book, "The Feasts of Israel"?
Steve Conover: Yes. To purchase a copy of this marvelous book, "The Feasts of Israel," by Bruce Scott, visit us at FOIradio.org. That's FOIradio.org. We'll have a link on our homepage, or you can call our listener line and that number is (888) 343-6940, and someone will return your call during our regular business hours. Again, that's (888) 343-6940. To order in Canada, call (888) 664-2584. Once again, that's (888) 664-2584.
Chris Katulka: The Feast of Tabernacles, as we're wrapping up our series here on the fall feasts of Israel, I just want to remind you the Feast of Tabernacles is a great reminder that the presence of God today is a real and present reality in the lives of those who believe in Jesus. In fact, it's even more real than the Israelites experienced. For an Israelite, God lived externally in a cloud by day and a fire by night or in the tabernacle and the temple, but for a Christian, the presence of God dwells within you. You are like a little tabernacle for God to dwell in. While God is dwelling in us, he should be changing the things around in our hearts, rearranging the spiritual layout of how we think and act and speak with one another. God's real and present reality in our lives should change the way that we think about everything. It should alter the relationships that we have with one another, and it should provide fruit in us that is consistent with his goodness and his character.
Not only is it called the Feast of Tabernacles, remember, it's called the Feast of Ingathering. It's connected to a harvest, especially with the fruits that are delicious and good. It's a beautiful picture of how it should be changing us from the inside out, and that we should be having fruit that is produced from the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. These fall feasts we've been talking about, Rosh Hashanah , Yom Kippur, the Feast of Tabernacles, not only are they something from the past and we look at how they apply to the present in our life today, but they're also connected to events that will happen prophetically. The feasts of Israel in the spring time are Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Shavuot. And these are prophetic events that have already been fulfilled in many ways. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are pictures of the death, burial and resurrection of the lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Shavuot, which is also called Pentecost is the day the church was born. It's the birth of the church from Acts chapter two.
And then there's a pause, a break in the calendar. A whole summer goes by and then all of a sudden, we're in the fall feasts. These could be equated with future events that are yet to happen. You could almost say that we're living in that moment, that break moment there, that there were anticipating events to still come. Bruce Scott on the broadcast that he was on a few weeks ago, said that Rosh Hashanah could be equated with two prophetic events. Either the rapture of the church, the last trumpet that's blown. And remember, Rosh Hashanah is also called the Feast of Trumpets, which could also be associated with Israel's regathering as a prophetic event. Bruce Scott seems to believe that Rosh Hashanah is associated with Israel's regathering. So in many ways, we're seeing prophecy fulfilled before our very eyes as Israel and the Jewish people are returning to their ancient homeland.
But then there's Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. There's a day coming in the future after the seven year tribulation period when Israel will see the Messiah, Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus, the Messiah coming. The prophet, Zachariah, in chapter 12 verse 10 says that, "Israel will look upon him whom they have pierced." Friends and Old Testament, prophetic passage, they, "Israel will look upon him whom they have pierced and a national repentance will take place. Israel's sins will be forgiven. God will deliver them both from their sins and their enemies that surround them."
Then finally, the Feast of Tabernacles, God dwelling with man, his presence among us. At the end of the book of Revelation and chapter 21, it says this, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them as their God.'" There is a day coming when God will tabernacle among us, the Feast of Tabernacles. It's the reason that prophet Zachariah in chapter 14 says that, "In the future, every nation in the millennial kingdom will honor the Feast of Tabernacles." Check it out. Amazing. We're going to celebrate God, honor God, worship God during the Feast of Tabernacles. Why? For tabernacling, being with us, being among his creation. He wants to be with us.
I hope this series on the fall feasts of Israel has been a blessing to you as much as it's been to me. And I hope that you pick up Bruce Scott's book, "The Feasts of Israel," which I think will enlighten you even more to how God wants to know you and deepen his relationship with you through these beautiful feasts that we see in Leviticus, chapter 23.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor, Zvi Kalsiher.
Mike Kellogg: One recent morning, I met a small group of young religious children at the bus station with their teacher. As is my custom, I said to them, " Shalom, boker tov," which means, "Peace, good morning." The teacher gave me a nasty look, but the children answered very nicely, "Shalom." I asked the teacher, "Are you not feeling well? Can I help you?" "No!" he shouted. I asked, "Why are you so unhappy?" He answered, "Because I do not want an atheist like you to have such close contact with my pupils." I asked, "How do you know I am an atheist?" He responded, "A person who believes in God covers his head, but your head is uncovered." I then asked, "Was Moses a Jew?" "Of course," he said. "You are right, but what did the Lord say to Moses when he was standing before the burning bush?" The teacher did not answer. So one of the children said, "I know. The Lord said, 'Do not draw near this place. Take her sandals off your feet for the place where you stand is Holy ground.'"
And then said, "You see. The Lord did not tell Moses to cover his head. Who are you that I cannot stand before you with my head uncovered? Do not think your long beard and black hat can save you." He became more interested in what I was saying. And the children were hanging onto my every word. The teacher asked, "How can you speak about salvation with such surety?" I replied, "I have had the great privilege of being saved and not because I was so nice or so good. I am a sinner just like everyone else, but I will have everlasting life." Psalm 23:6 says, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
By now, two buses had come and gone, but the teacher didn't seem upset about it. He wanted to prove himself right, and he didn't care how long it took. And then suddenly he said, "Aha. Now I know who you are. You're a missionary." I asked him, "What about Abraham and Jonah? Were they not missionaries? Even all of your ultra Orthodox rabbis are missionaries. The only difference between them and me is that I preach the gospel of God according to the Bible, but you and the rabbis spread only vanity. Even when I greeted you with Shalom, you would not answer me. In the law, God commanded us, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Instead, you are teaching your pupils to hate their neighbors."
This made him very angry and he shouted, "A Christian has no right to tell me how to educate my pupils!" I responded, "It is not important whether you call yourself a Jew or a Christian. The important thing is to keep the very least of the Lord's commandments. And in doing this, you will find him. He will then receive you just as you received me when I came to him on his terms." It is written in Isaiah 2:3. "Out of Zion, shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." We were very near to this prophecy's fulfillment. Please, please pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Steve Conover: Thank you for being with us today. Chris, we have a special guest with us next week. Don't we?
Chris Katulka: Yeah. We have Steve Herzig coming in studio and there's been so much happening so quickly when it comes to what's going on in the Middle East, specifically the peace with the UAE and Bahrain and potentially some other countries. We haven’t had a chance to even catch up because everything's been happening so quick. So we are going to be talking about the peace that's happening in the Middle East, how it happened and what we can expect in the future. So I hope that you join us next week.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. One last quick reminder to visit us at FOIradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
The Feasts of Israel: Seasons of The Messiah
By Bruce Scott
The Bible is a Jewish book written by Jewish writers with a Jewish worldview. That means the holidays and feasts of the Old Testament have hidden meanings that are clear in a Jewish context that we should know too!
The Feasts of Israel: Seasons of the Messiah will teach you the fullness of Jesus’ ministry by explaining the rich symbolism of the feasts of Israel.
IN CANADA? ORDER HERE!
Apples of Gold: I Will Dwell in the House of the Lord
Zvi said hello to a teacher and his pupils at a bus stop. The teacher was rude and did not respond to him. Zvi asked why he was being rude, and the teacher explained that because Zvi did not wear a covering on his head, he assumed he was an atheist. Zvi explained that choosing not to follow such a man-made law did not make a person an atheist. Their discussion allowed Zvi to share the good news of who the true Messiah is.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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