After being Baptized with the Holy Ghost and then giving his first inspired sermon the apostle Peter summed up God’s instruction for man this way: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitutionof all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21).So, what are these “times of refreshing: and “times of restoration” that Peter is talking is talking about?We can be certain that God’s plan for mankind involves restoration. The Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the restoration process, which will start with the return of Jesus Christ, pictured by the Feast of Trumpets, and the banishment of Satan, depicted by the Day of Atonement. Once these events have taken place, as represented by the previous Holy Days, the foundation is in place for the restoration of the creation to peace and harmony with God.
The seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, which begins with an annual Holy Day (Leviticus 23:34-35), pictures the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ over the earth after His second coming (see Revelation 20:4). This period is often called the Millennium, which simply means “1,000 years.”
That age to come, a wonderful “rest” following the hardships of the present age, is symbolized every seven days by the weekly Sabbath (Hebrews 4:1-11) and every year by the Feast of Tabernacles. Also called the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16), it celebrates the great harvest of humanity when all people who are alive on earth will learn God’s ways. Humanity will at last be restored to a right relationship with God (Isaiah 11:9-10).
In the beginning, God created mankind to cooperate with Him in a beautiful relationship characterized by love, peace and obedience to His laws. At the completion of His creation, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). This time of peace and harmony abruptly ended because of Satan’s deception and man’s disobedience (Genesis 3:1-6). Disobedience cut mankind off from God’s way (verses 21-24). The Bible describes the tragic result: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5).
This broken relationship between God and man has continued through history to our time. Paul reflected on this state: “Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12).
Paul knew that the breach created by man’s disobedience is healed through Jesus Christ: “For since by man [Adam] came death, by man [Christ] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
Isaiah prophesied the restoration of the world
God used the prophet Isaiah to reveal parts of His magnificent plan for restoring the world. Written at a time during which Israel faced punishment for continued disobedience, the book of Isaiah was inspired by God to give the nation encouragement through the promise of a better world to come.
Jesus Christ, after reading in the synagogue one of Isaiah’s prophecies, acknowledged the special understanding given to the prophet: “These things said Esaias [Isaiah], when he saw his glory, and spake of him.” (John 12:41). Isaiah prophesied not only of Christ’s earthly ministry, but also wrote of Christ’s return in power and glory (Isaiah 66:15-16).
The basis for the messianic rule of Jesus will be God’s law. Again, as Isaiah foretold, “it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:2-3).
A world of peace and abundance
After Christ’s return, He will bring the creation in its entirety into harmony with God, and peace will no longer be the exception. King David said, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165). If everyone knew God’s law and lived by it the world would be a wonderful place to live. Can you imagine such a place?
To bring about amazing transformation in the lives of people more than just knowledge would be needed. Among people we would need to see a spiritual change. Not the kind of change that takes place on the outside that makes us look religious, but the kind that takes place on the inside that makes us look like Jesus. God, speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, describes how it will happen: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
People will willingly and enthusiastically obey God from their hearts as the Spirit of God influences them. People will begin to set their personal interests aside and place the interests of others ahead of their own. Other people will be thought of as better than themselves. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3). Personal goals will be to help their fellow human beings instead of exclusive self-concern. Amazingly, we will see an end to theft of personal property. A blatant disregard for others’ property and feelings will be eliminated. Because the world will finally be at peace, countries will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore“ (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3).
During this 1,000-year period, God will change even the nature of wild animals, reflecting the peace that will descend upon society. Conditions on earth shall return to that of the Garden of Eden before sin brought death into this world. Describing this idyllic time, Isaiah 11:7-9 says: ” And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
Reversing the effects of sin
Physical infirmities shall be healed by God. Isaiah 35:5-6 prophesies of this time during which “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.”
Of even greater importance will be the spiritual healing that will take place. Jesus Christ will complete the healing He begun during His ministry on earth according to the Prophet Isaiah: ” The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind [heal] up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:18-19). We will start to see a reversal of the accumulated results of generations of people following Satan’s sinful ways.
As already mentioned, the Feast of Tabernacles is also called the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16). This name signified the completion of Israel’s annual harvest. In this setting, God said, “Ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 12:12, 18; 14:26). So this feast is a time of celebration for the abundance God has given. The same bountiful harvest theme continues in the future fulfillment of the festival. Through Isaiah, God spoke of the desert becoming productive land: “…for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. “(Isaiah 35:6-7).
Although, Isaiah 35:7b has little to do with the context of this article, I will take a short side bar to discuss a word found here. Just because I find it so fascinating, we will discuss the word “dragon”.
The word “dragon” is the old English word for “dinosaur”. The word “dinosaur” was not found in the dictionary until 1841. The word was first coined in Modern Latin by Sir Richard Owen, from combining form of Greek deinos “terrible” and sauros “lizard”. Prior to 1841 they described these animals by the use of the word dragon. Thus prior to 1841, you will find throughout literature and the Bible the word dragon to describe dinosaurs.
In Exodus 20 God tells us that He created everything, including dinosaurs in six days. Dinosaurs have always lived with man…they lived with Adam in the Garden of Eve, they were with Noah on the Ark and some of them may still be alive today. That’s all, side bar over.
Abundant harvests will be produced at that time. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.” (Amos 9:13).
The significance of tabernacles
The name of the Feast of Tabernacles derives from God’s command to ancient Israel to build temporary “tabernacles,” sometimes called “booths,” to live in during the festival. The Israelites left their houses and built temporary dwelling places (Hebrew succah, meaning “hut of woven boughs”) to live in while rejoicing before God. These reminded them of their release from slavery and their dwelling in booths when God brought them out of Egypt (Leviticus 23:34
, 41-43). This festival emphasizes rest, peace and prosperity as it meets the needs of all the people, including strangers, widows and the poor. This of course, is in stark contrast to the hardship of slavery.
The Bible emphasizes that, as with booths or temporary dwellings, our physical life is transitory. The Apostle Paul’s writings reflect this theme: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house 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” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).
Hebrews 11 recounts the examples of many of God’s faithful servants down through the centuries. It then concludes that “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (verse 13).
The Feast of Tabernacles is an annual reminder of our temporary state and that we also “seek a homeland” (verse 14). This lesson is reinforced when we travel to a site of the Feast of Tabernacles and stay in temporary dwellings such as hotels and campgrounds.
This festival reminds us that, in spite of our material possessions, we are still mortals in need of a literal transformation so we may possess eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
In the accounts of the vision that has come to be called the “transfiguration,” Jesus gave a glimpse of the Kingdom of God to Peter, James and John. Christ appeared in glory and was talking with Moses and Elijah. Peter’s immediate response was to suggest that they quickly construct three tabernacles. He seemed to understand the important connection between tabernacles and the future age of God’s Kingdom.
“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” (Matthew 17:1-9; Luke 9:27-36).
The role of the resurrected saints in the Millennium
The judgment of the inhabitants of the earth who live during the 1,000 years as pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles (Isaiah 2:4; 51:4-5) begins in earnest as Christ brings “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). This judgment is a time of universal opportunity for salvation. And to this end, God has allocated 1,000 years during which the resurrected saints, the first fruits of God’s harvest, will reign with Christ on earth as kings and priests, leading the way so many others can enter God’s Kingdom (Revelation 5:10; 20:6). “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Jesus promised that “he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations” (Revelation 2:26). People whom God resurrects at Christ’s return will experience the unparalleled opportunity to work with Him to help all nations build a right relationship with God.
The foundation for this relationship begins with instruction in God’s law, including the observance of these very festivals we are now studying. Notice the words of the prophet Zechariah: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16). Other prophets described the time as an era of God’s law covering the earth “as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).
Many will assist Jesus Christ in this universal educational program of helping others understand God’s way. Speaking of this time, Isaiah says teachers “yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20-21). The opportunity to help others understand and be reconciled to God is a wonderful calling. Each who serves in this way will be called “the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In” (Isaiah 58:12).
God calls people out of the world at this time to become His chosen people, sanctified and redeemed by Him (2 Corinthians 6:16–7:1). They are to live exemplary lives as God prepares them for service during Christ’s millennial reign and beyond.
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12).
One final conflict
If one reads God’s plan for saving humanity you will not find one place where he forces anyone to obey Him. You are free to either accept or reject God’s way of life. For that matter, you can choose what you will or won’t do with your life. Go ahead, if you want to wreck your life with drugs, alcohol, fornication, adultery, lying, cheating stealing or any number of other of sins, it is all your choice.
The spiritual convictions of man will be tested by Satan after the 1,000 years of the Millennium and God will allow this. Revelation 20:7-10 describes this time. The devil will be loosed by God from his place of restraint and allowed to deceive those who are not convicted of the perfect righteousness of God’s way. God will destroy by fire those who follow Satan in this rebellion. The devil’s futile efforts will be thwarted. This final, tragic rebellion against God will come to nothing, and Satan’s destructive, deceitful influence over humanity will finally draw to a close.
The Bible says to choose this day whome you will serve. With that choice be God or will that choice be the world? Will you rule as kings and priest with Jesus or will you be cast into the lake of fire with Satan and his demons? The decision is yours.
King James Version Bible
Reveling Through Revelation, J. Vernon McGee, 1974
Pastor Kevin Airrington