Should Christians Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles?
1996 by Asher Intrater
Across the span of the week-long Feast of Tabernacles, it was the practice of the ancient Israelites to sacrifice seventy bulls (Numbers 29). These seventy bulls are representative of the seventy national ethnic groups and races among the Gentiles. The sacrifice of these bulls may be seen as a symbolic act of intercession by the Levitical priesthood on behalf of the nations of the world.
As a sacrificed animal represents the substitutionary atonement of Jesus the Messiah, it may be said that the Feast of Tabernacles contains within it the symbolic promise that all the nations of the world would be included in the plan of redemption and would be grafted into the faith of the God of Israel.
The number twelve is often symbolic of the tribes of Israel, as the number seventy is symbolic of the Gentile nations. Jesus chose twelve disciples representing the tribes of Israel, and then he chose another seventy disciples representing the Gentile nations to spread the word even further. There were twelve sons of Jacob, but then seventy children if one includes the generation of Jacob's grandchildren. Here again we have the a veiled prophecy that the faith in the God of Abraham would one day spread from the twelve tribes of Israel outward to the seventy Gentile nations.
God loves people of all races and ethnic groups equally. The faith of ancient Israel was never meant to remain exclusively among the Jews. There was a certain exclusiveness to the covenant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the purpose of guaranteeing the integrity and historical documentation of the lineage of the Messiah. However, Gentiles were always to be welcomed to join the faith of Israel. Jethro, Ruth, Rahab, the mixed multitude from Egypt, the Ninevites who repented under Jonah, King Cyrus, and Naaman the Syrian general, are all examples of God's intention ultimately to include all the Gentiles in the faith of Israel.
The Church, as the worldwide Body of Christ, is the universal grouping of people of all different backgrounds into one faith under the Lordship of Jesus. There is a remnant of born-again believers from every nation that take part in this universal body. There is a remnant of Americans who are part of the Church; there is a remnant among the Jews who are part of the Church; and there is a remnant from every nation around the globe.
One of the proofs that Jesus is the Messiah is that people from every different culture and background have come to believe in Him. He was to be a light to the Gentiles. He was to bring righteousness to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42 and 49). One of the great beauties and glories of the end-times Church is the love and reconciliation that is to be found among believers of different backgrounds.
This is one reason why, I believe, that God chose the rainbow as the sign of His covenant with Noah. The covenant with Noah was the promise of the eventual worldwide plan of redemption. In the rainbow we find a spectrum of every color blended together into an expression of overarching beauty. Every color of the rainbow maintains its own and distinct hue, yet they are blended together in a perfect unity. If each color did not maintain its own distinctiveness, the rainbow would lose its beauty.
So it is we find the Church: neither distinctiveness nor unity alone will bring out the right manifestation of God's glory. Rather, what we are to have is a respect and appreciation for one another's distinctiveness, leading to reconciliation, which brings out a heartfelt unity.
Both the seventy bulls of the Feast of Tabernacles and the symbol of Noah's rainbow portray the hope of the unity and universality of the Church glorious. Racial divisions are more than a social problem. There is a deeper demonic root which seeks to make every ethnic group perceive themselves as alienated from the Body of Christ. If Blacks consider Christianity to be a "white man's religion," they will be susceptible to be drawn to such deceptions as militant Islam.
The perception among Jewish people that one can no longer be Jewish if he believes in Jesus has been a long-standing demonic barrier hindering the Jews from coming to faith in their own Messiah.
The origin of sin was the breakdown in the relationship between God and mankind. But a direct result of that sin was the breakdown in relationships between man and man on a horizontal plain. While Adam may have fallen originally from his glorious relationship with God, it was then in the first generation that Adam's son Cain killed his own brother Abel. The Church therefore is to be seen first as the place where mankind is reconciled with God through Jesus the Messiah, and then secondly, as a result of that same faith in Jesus, the Church is to be the place where men are reconciled one to another.
The Jews and Arabs in the Middle East are still fighting out the disagreements between Isaac and Ishmael, and Jacob and Esau. I believe the end-times Church will provide a model of reconciliation between Jew and Arab as both born-again Jews and born-again Arabs come to love one another under the Lordship of Jesus the Messiah. That unity between born-again Jews and born-again Arabs is to be a significant demonstration of the power of the kingdom of God in our times.
The Church is to be the place where the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile comes down (Ephesians 2:14). The Gentiles are to see themselves as grafted in to the same historical faith of the Jews (Romans 11). It is not that the Church has replaced Israel, but rather that Christians all around the world have become part of the greater commonwealth of spiritual Israel (Ephesians 2:12).
The seventy bulls of the Feast of Tabernacles symbolize both the end-times unity of the Body of Believers and the identification of that worldwide Body with the Nation of Israel. In these end times God is bringing to pass a parallel in both the Church and Israel.
Ultimately there will be great revival within the Nation of Israel where virtually the entire nation will come to faith in Jesus (Romans 11:26). The Church as well will come to such a full place of restoration that it will truly become part of the Commonwealth of Israel. Ultimately the Church and Israel become unified. As the Feast of Tabernacles contains this prophecy of end-times unity between Jew and Gentile in the Body of Christ as the Commonwealth of Israel, it may well behoove Bible-believing Christians of every nation to celebrate this Feast as a spiritual expression of their faith that unity and restoration are soon at hand.