Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
But WHY "Temporary Dwellings"?
The Feast of Tabernacles pictures the Millennium. But this Feast is also the Feast of "temporary dwellings." Why? What do temporary dwellings have to do with the Millennium?
by HOIM Staff
In the Millennium, depicted by the Feast of Tabernacles, the whole world will be filled with the knowledge of YEHOVAH God.
YEHOVAH God will be administering His government and ruling all nations with a rod of iron while Yeshua the Messiah will be ruling over Israel. Every person on earth will understand the reason for this human life. No longer will the knowledge about the incredible human potential be suppressed by diabolical forces.
People everywhere will at last know the reason why they were born. All over the world the true religion of YEHOVAH God will be the only religion. In every facet of society true values will be recaptured.
And the rejoicing will be great!
But what does all this exciting news about the way the world will then be have to do with we Israelites living in temporary dwellings today during the Feast of Tabernacles?
Plenty, as we shall see.
What is a "Tabernacle"?
A tabernacle, a booth or a tent is a temporary shelter. The name "Feast of Tabernacles" or "Feast of Booths" means the Feast of Temporary Dwellings. It was among the feasts YEHOVAH God gave to ancient Israel to keep them mindful of His purpose. But the Israelites rebelled against YEHOVAH. As a result they went into captivity and lost the knowledge of YEHOVAH's ways.
Later a Jewish (Judahite) remnant returned to their homeland under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. The period witnessed a revival of true religion, during which the following remarkable discovery was made in the Scriptures:
"And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month [the Feast of Tabernacles]: And that they should...fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written" (Nehemiah 8:14-15).
They found in the law of YEHOVAH God that all Israel was to dwell in temporary dwellings during the Feast of Tabernacles.
"So the people went forth, and...made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so" (verses 16-17).
The Feast had never been nationally observed in the correct manner since the days of Joshua. This handful of people who came back out of captivity made themselves booths and lean-tos from branches. In these shelters they lived during the Feast.
The law that they had "rediscovered" is in Leviticus 23:39-43. "It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths" (verses 41-42).
The booths or dwellings were to be made out of branches and they were to be places of temporary residence.
But why was Israel to spend the Feast in temporary abodes?
The answer is given in verse 43, "That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt."
After the tribes of Israel came out of Egypt they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years before going in and possessing the promised land. While in the wilderness they had no permanent dwellings. They wandered from place to place, setting up their tents, staying awhile, then pulling their tents down and moving on.
The Israelites were heirs to the land YEHOVAH God had promised to them. But they were not yet inheritors. They were merely heirs waiting to become inheritors of the land of Canaan.
That is why they lived in temporary dwellings. They were sojourners, pilgrims. They lived in the world of the wilderness, but they were not of it. Their inheritance was elsewhere.
Abraham had been a pilgrim too, as were Isaac and Jacob.
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed...By faith he sojourned [a temporary stay] in the land of promise, as in a strange country [because he hadn't yet received it for his inheritance], dwelling in tabernacles [tents, temporary dwellings] with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs [not yet inheritors] with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations [permanence], whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:8-10).
Yes, Abraham in faith looked for the new Jerusalem and the glorious Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. He and other saints "died in faith, not having received the promises [the inheritance], but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (verse 13).
What a beautiful picture for us! Christian Israelites are "strangers and pilgrims" (I Peter 2:11) in this life. We are in the wilderness of this world, but we are not of it (John 17:11, 14). We are separate from the world (Revelation 18:4) -- heirs, but not yet inheritors, of our permanent dwelling place, the promised Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.
We Are Temporary
We are mortal beings, made of the dust of the ground. The human existence is truly fleeting -- here today, gone tomorrow. "For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14).
Only a few people on earth today are blessed with the knowledge of what this life is all about. Most Israelite people who have ever lived have come and gone without realizing why they were born -- what their true potential has been.
In the Millennium, however, the whole world will understand the purpose for life and what the human potential is. They will comprehend that during this life we Israelites are mortal heirs who may become immortal inheritors of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. By living in temporary dwellings during the Feast we portray a world during the Millennium in which everyone understands the truth of what life is all about.
All mortals are destined to die. Only by receiving the germ of eternal life from YEHOVAH's spirit can a person of Israelite heritage hope to live forever. As Christian Israelites we have that eternal life abiding in us (I John 5:11). These physical bodies of ours -- with all of their imperfections, their selfish desires, their weaknesses, yes, their aches and pains -- are only meant to last long enough for us to qualify for eternal life.
The apostle Peter expressed this thought. Getting along in years and realizing that the hour of his martyrdom was approaching as the Messiah had foretold (John 21:18-19), he wrote, "I know my tent must be folded up very soon -- as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me" (II Peter 1:1314, Moffatt version).
A tent that sooner or later will be folded up and put away. Is that how you think of your physical body? Too many people do not. They fret and worry about the shape of their nose, the color of their hair, the wrinkles and creases that come with age. They spend their lives in anxious pursuit of more luxurious ways to pamper, clothe, shelter and transport these temporary dwellings. They miss the point entirely. They don't know what this life is all about because they don't understand that we Israelites are merely pilgrims preparing for an eternal inheritance.
Step out into eternity for a minute and look back at this life. Does it really matter that you can't afford to feed and clothe your body as you would like, that you have flat feet, a bad back or that your "tent" is defective in some other way -- maybe even with a serious or terminal disease? Your tent was not designed to last forever. It was only meant to last long enough to get you to your eternal inheritance. Then YEHOVAH God will give you an eternal house.
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle [tent] were dissolved [as it is bound to be], we have a building of God, an house [yes, a house -- no longer a tent!] not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven" (II Corinthians 5:1-2). It is part of the reward YEHOVAH God and the Messiah will bring with them to give their people Israel at the resurrection.
"For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened...that mortality might be swallowed up of life" (verse 4).
That is what we need! "For...this mortal must put on immortality" (I Corinthians 15:53). If we overcome and endure to the end, we will be made immortal.
Paul, who himself was a tentmaker by occupation, understood and preached the reason for which we were born into these physical, temporary bodies. He comprehended our incredible human potential. He wrote, "...we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change [through YEHOVAH's spirit] our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Philippians 3:20-21).
To become members of the Family of YEHOVAH God as the Messiah is a member. That is the purpose for human life. That is the only goal that counts.
Why the Feast of Temporary Dwellings
That brings us to the reason for which we Israelites are to abide in temporary dwellings during the Feast picturing the Millennium.
The ancient physical nation of Israel was to dwell in booths during the Feast of Booths to commemorate the fact that they were once pilgrims living in tents while waiting to inherit the physical promised land.
As Christian Israelites having the holy spirit, we see the spiritual analogy: We descendants of Israel are temporary beings waiting to inherit the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. We are merely pilgrims in this present life. Our human existence is just a time of preparation for eternity. Living in a temporary booth or dwelling during the Feast depicts all those of Israel understanding this awesome purpose for their human life.
The Feast is a time to rejoice that this life is not all there is and that in the Millennium everyone will realize this truth.
The Bible makes a definite connection between rejoicing and dwelling in booths at the Feast. In Leviticus 23:40 YEHOVAH told the Israelites to build booths and, He commanded, "ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days." In Nehemiah 8:17 all the congregation made booths and sat under them and "there was very great gladness."
Remember the Wilderness Trek
One of the sections of the Bible that can be profitably studied in connection with dwelling in booths is Numbers, chapters 9-21. Most of what we know about Israel's 40 years of living in tents in the wilderness is contained in these few chapters. But there are also some tremendously vital lessons we need to think about and apply to our Christian "sojourning" on earth. Here are a few examples related to this section. The purpose of the Christian life is summed up in Deuteronomy 8:2-3. The number 40 is often used in the Bible to indicate a period of testing. The Christian Israelite life is a period of testing to see whether we qualify for our inheritance.
"And thou shalt remember [a command!] all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no." That is what YEHOVAH God wants to find out. That is why we are mortal now. YEHOVAH is going to find out where we stand before we inherit eternal life. He doesn't want a spirit-type rebellion in His Kingdom.
"And he humbled thee...that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live."
What a lesson to learn while we are in our earthly tabernacles!
YEHOVAH God was an ever-present guide to the children of Israel. In a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day He led them. They had to be always ready at a moment's notice -- night or day -- to pack up their temporary shelters and follow the cloud when it moved. "And...whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed" (Numbers 9:21).
Maybe they had just gotten their tents set up. Maybe some were particularly fond of a choice location near a big rock or a cave where the children could play. No matter. They had to keep their eyes on that cloud and fire. "Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried...the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it [the cloud] was taken up, they journeyed" (verse 22).
We might ask ourselves how responsive we Israelites today are to YEHOVAH's direction. Are we always prepared to forsake any and every earthly tie that would hinder us from obeying YEHOVAH God? Are we ready to move on?
Most of Israel's actions in the wilderness, such as rebelling against the leaders YEHOVAH had appointed, lusting and complaining, were examples of what not to do. But they were recorded that way expressly for our learning (I Corinthians 10:6). They should be thoroughly studied so you can "conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear" (I Peter 1:17, NKJ version).
Think About the Meaning
Staying in temporary dwellings portrays Israel's pilgrimage in the wilderness, our own pilgrimage as Christian Israelites in the present evil world and the time during the Millennium when all Israel will understand that they are pilgrims in this life.
However, we should consider one other event having to do with "temporary dwellings."
When the Messiah appears on this earth again, the nations of Israel will have been in captivity. He will deliver them and lead them to their inheritance. This is described in Isaiah 65:9, "I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen [Israelites] shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there" (Revised Standard Version).
As the newly delivered Israelites make their way to the land they shall inherit (Isaiah 27:13,11:12-16), temporary dwellings will once again provide shelter. "And I that am the LORD thy God...will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast" (Hosea 12:9).
We foreshadow that happy event also.
How rich in meaning is the Feast of Booths! Unfortunately many think they are observing the Feast of Tabernacles by going away to some "official Feast site" and staying at some swank or holiday resort and having "fun" -- listening to a number of sermons (usually as few as possible!) and living in motels and living it up with pleasures, gourmet dining, visiting theme parks and museums, etc. But YEHOVAH God nowhere says that is the way to "keep the Feast"!
The "Feast of Booths" is to be observed by building or constructing booths -- just as the "name" of the Feast implies! We will be obeying and worshipping YEHOVAH God by dwelling in such "temporary dwellings" -- makeshift, rickety, fragile, homemade BOOTHS that we have constructed in a camp ground, park, or even in our own back yard, balcony or roof-top.
So think about the meaning when you enter your tabernacle or booth. As you lie down in a bed not your own usual one, as you eat under circumstances different from what you are used to, as you dig in your bag hoping to find another pair of warm socks, think about what you are portraying.
Think, Temporary. Think, Pilgrims. Think, Heirs. Think, Worldwide understanding of the purpose for life.
Then rejoice and have a great Feast of Temporary Dwellings!
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