TheShiningLight

Preparing the Way of the Lord

107: Branches and Booths

God commands that a fall Feast be kept in the Seventh Biblical month which answers to the September October time frame.  This is a Harvest Festival called the Feast of Ingathering or the Feast of Tabernacles and is to be kept with rejoicing over the main harvest in Israel. 

The main harvest in Israel is used as an allegory of a main spiritual harvest of humanity and the symbols of the Feast of Tabernacles apply directly to a resurrection to flesh and a harvest of all humanity into the family of God. 

During this main harvest festival we are to reside in temporary dwellings to indicate the temporary nature of the flesh and all things physical, which is why it is called the Feast of Tabernacles and why the book of Ecclesiastes was appointed since Ezra to be read during this Festival. 

At this Fall Harvest Feast we are also commanded to cut branches and to rejoice with them, the branches picturing the main harvest of people being resurrected to flesh and being brought into the family of God with great rejoicing.  

Leviticus 23:39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land,

This Feast is to be held when the main fall harvest in the Judea and the Israel area is nearing completion, as an analogy of bringing in the main spiritual harvest of humanity into the family of God.

. . . 23:39 ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.  23:40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook: and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. 

We are commanded to rejoice with the branches for each and every day of the Feast of Ingathering, beginning on the first day.

23:41 And you shall keep it a feast unto the Lord seven days in the year. [seven days each year, in the Seventh Month].  It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.

We are also commanded to reside in temporary dwellings each and every day of the seven day Feast.

23:42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:  23:43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths [temporary dwellings in the wilderness], when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

The command to reside in temporary dwellings for the seven days of this Feast is specifically stated as having the purpose of reminding the people that when they were called out of Egypt Israel was made to dwell in temporary circumstances in the wilderness before and until they entered the physical promised land. 

This was an allegory that when called out of sin and grafted into the spiritual New Covenant, people will no longer belong to Satan’s world of bondage to sin, and will have become travelers and strangers, seeking the spiritual Promised Land of eternal life. 

Dwelling in temporary structures in the midst of the plenty and rejoicing of the Feast is also a reminder that physical things are transitory and that the only really permanent things are spiritual and the spiritual New Covenant Promised Land of eternal life; which is the lesson of the book of Ecclesiastes. 

A good many people attending the Feast, often for many years, still don’t understand the meaning of the Festival, because they do not keep the Feast as God commands it to be kept. 

Notice that God said on the first day; cut some branches and rejoice before God, and later on He says, build booths. 

They are two separate instructions.  NOWHERE does God say to build the booths out of the branches which we are to cut.  And Israel did not go out and live for 40 years in the wilderness in shacks made of branches. “I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt”  

They had tents in the wilderness when they came out of Egypt! 

We are to reside in temporary structures [any structure that is not permanently our own] to learn and understand that when we come out of this world [spiritual Egypt] of bondage to sin, we are no longer of that world, but are only travelers journeying towards and seeking another and far, far better, permanent New Covenant (Jer 31:31); which brings entry into the Promised Land of eternal life.  

The word “booths” simply means: a hut or lair:–booth, cottage, covert, pavilion, tabernacle, tent (H5520); which indicates any structure that is temporary and not our own permanent dwelling place.

The idea here is that we are to live in tents or temporary dwellings which are not our regular permanent dwellings during the Feast of Tabernacles, beginning in the evening starting the first day; which means that the booths had to be ready by sunset beginning the first day.

These are two separate commands, the first being: 

  1.  We are to move into temporary quarters before the first day begins so that we spend the first night in those temporary structures,

and

  1.   That ON the first day we are to cut branches and rejoice WITH the branches through the days of the Feast!  

Cutting and bringing the branches into the temple and rejoicing with them, is acting out the bringing in of the main harvest of people to God and into the family of God! 

 

Again what are the two commands? 

  1. To build booths before the first day so that we can spend the full seven nights in them beginning on the first evening beginning the Feast, to remember that this flesh and all physical things are only temporary; and
  2. To cut branches ON the first day and bring them into the temple rejoicing with them every day of the Feast, acting out the bringing in of the families of humanity into the family of God. 

The commands to build booths and to cut branches are TWO SEPARATE commands, not related to each other! 

Booths are tents or temporary dwellings to live in, and can be made of branches if one desires; but there is also a specific command to cut branches and bring them before God rejoicing with them, which second command is quite distinct and separate from building booths!

Boughs or branches of goodly or healthy, beautiful, strong trees, are to be cut on the very first day, the high holy day, and we are to rejoice with them before God for seven days

The palm, myrtle and willow are specifically mentioned because the willow represents vigorous growth, the myrtle represents beauty and the palm represents regal dignity.  However, we are not told that these are the only branches that can be cut.  It just says goodly trees. 

Nehemiah and the people built booths out of branches.  But they would also have rejoiced before God with branches, for Ezra and Nehemiah set the Temple service and included the rejoicing with branches in the temple Feast of Tabernacles services.

Today we have the added advantage of the spiritual teachings of Jesus Christ who revealed the spirit and intent of this commandment. 

Even then, Ezra and Nehemiah had the people cut bundles of branches to rejoice in the temple with!  We know this because they restored and established the temple Feast of Tabernacles services which prevailed from then on.

We are to rejoice with these branches.  Why is that?  It is because of what they represent. 

It is now the time to restore to the Ekklesia the spiritual meaning of this rejoicing with branches as revealed by Jesus Christ. 

In the temple celebration, on each day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the people in the temple courtyard would hold their clusters of branches, waving them before the Lord and making a procession around the altar. 

The first six days they would circle the altar once, and on the seventh day they would circle the altar seven times to increase the joy.  During the procession on the seventh day, they would recite a prayer which became known as the Hoshana.  It is a prayer for God’s blessing, ending each phrase of the prayer with the words “save us”. 

For this reason the last and seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, [NOT the Feast of The Eighth Day] became known as Hoshana Rabbah, meaning the [Last] Day of the Great Salvation, or the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

They marched around the altar once each day, holding their branches and saying “save us, give salvation”.  And on the seventh day they marched around seven times repeating the same words. 

This process is a duplicate of the seven day march around Jericho with the city being marched about seven times on the seventh day and total victory over the city representing total victory over sin. 

The seven times march around the altar on the seventh day of the Feast representing a total and final victory over all sin being granted by God to the main harvest of  all repentant humanity! 

The Feast of Tabernacles then pictures, the main harvest in Israel, and a celebration of rejoicing for that harvest; but raised to a spiritual level, it pictures the main harvest of humanity!

The bringing in of the branches pictures the bringing in of the main harvest of mankind right up to the altar where the sacrifices were made, and the sacrifices of the blood dashed at the foot of the altar represented Christ’s sacrifice.  So bringing the branches right up to the altar represented leading humanity in the main harvest right up to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God!

We can understand this through the words of Jesus in John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  15:2 Every branch [that abides] in me that beareth not fruit he [the Father] taketh away: and every branch that [abides in Christ and] beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 

God the Father and Jesus Christ are the foundation of the Word of God and we are to abide in Him—not in some other guy, not in some group; but in God the Father in heaven and Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.  And if we abide in Christ, being the vine, we will be nourished as a branch by the Holy Spirit, just as a physical branch is nourished by the energy and water and strength that comes from the trunk of the tree.

We as human beings, by being totally grafted into the trunk of the tree, Jesus Christ; are nourished spiritually by Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit. 

Then we will grow, even as a physical branch grows because of the nutrients it receives from the trunk; we grow because of the spiritual nutrients we receive from our trunk or our vine, Jesus Christ.  And if we abide faithfully in Christ we will be nourished by him through his Spirit.  We will be given the Holy Spirit and the Bread of Life.  We will be nourished by Christ and we will grow and we will bear fruit. 

If we do not abide in Christ, which is a Christ-like zeal to live by every Word of God the Father, we are cut off from our source of spiritual nourishment we are cut off from our source of spiritual growth. 

We have to always put God the Father and Jesus Christ, and that means the whole Word of God, FIRST. 

All scripture was recorded and preserved for our instruction and we really need to stand on all the scriptures, not just pick and choose what we like or don’t like. 

Jesus said in John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you [IF you live by those words]

The Word of God is not limited to the words recorded that Jesus physically spoke in the gospels.  The whole Word of God from Genesis to Revelation was inspired by the Being who became Jesus Christ.  He inspired Moses and all the other writers of scripture, Isaiah, the Prophets, David and others, were all inspired by Christ. 

The entire Word of God makes us spiritually clean, if we learn it and actually do it.  It makes us clean from sin because it teaches us what we need to avoid, which is sin.

The Word of God teaches us what sin is, and it teaches us to avoid sin, so that we can become clean and pure and free from sin. 

If in our lives, we learn and actually live by every Word of God, we are copying God the Father and Jesus Christ; We become like God by internalizing the very nature of God.

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I [will abide] in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye [bear fruit except you] abide in me.  15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: 

The branches refer to people, and the vine or the trunk of the tree is Jesus Christ. 

. . . 15:5 He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:  . . .

Here Christ is talking about physical fruit as an allegory of spiritual fruit. When we are abiding in Christ, he is going to nourish us with the Word of God by the Holy Spirit and we are going to bear fruit. 

. . .  for without me ye can do nothing. 

If we stand on our own ways we are going nowhere.  We may get rich and popular in this world like some rock star, but in terms of our relationship with God we are going nowhere. 

15:6 Now if a man abide not in me, [Christ], he will be cast forth as [like] a branch, [that does not bear fruit and he will be] withered; [and then] men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 

Anyone who rejects full unity with God the Father and a Christ-like zeal to live by every Word of God;  is going to be cut off from the tree, thrown out and burned up.  He is going to be destroyed. 

We all have to abide in Christ, and those who are not fully abiding in God the Father and Jesus Christ, needs to repent of that and return to God the Father and Jesus Christ in sincere repentance.

15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 

The branches of trees represent people abiding in Christ and living by every Word of God being filled with the loving law of God.  The law of God actually defines love and it defines the nature of God the Father and the nature of Jesus Christ.  We must abide in Christ to live by every Word of God if we are to produce the Christ-like spiritual fruits of true godly righteousness.

The lesson for the Feast of the Ingathering of Nations, sometimes called Tabernacles, is that all nations will ultimately be grafted into God the Father and Jesus Christ and be brought into the family of God. 

The Feast of the Ingathering of Nations or Tabernacles; represents the bringing in of the main harvest of humanity, the grafting into the spiritual New Covenant of the branches of the main harvest of humanity, into the true vine and the trunk of that great tree of eternal life, Jesus Christ and God the Father. 

That is the lesson of the Feast of Tabernacles; that all humanity are branches, needing to be grafted into the true vine Jesus Christ and into God the Father, and into their Word and their ways which lead to the spiritual Promised Land of life eternal, if we remain steadfast in them.

These Feast of Tabernacles branches represent the main harvest of all of humanity who were not converted as a part of the first fruits; representing our unconverted mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, husbands, wives, dear friends, associates, all kinds of people, even our enemies in this life: being grafted into Jesus Christ and the new covenant of godliness, with the potential to receive the gift of eternal life. 

When we understand what this means; that our dearly beloved ones who have been separated from God for a wink of time in eternity;  are going to have their chance to be grafted into God the Father and Jesus Christ, then we can really REJOICE at the Feast of Tabernacles. 

As everyone reconciles with God and with each other, all of these past hurts are going to vanish away in a wondrous time of really super, rejoicing.

Seven days, at a day for a thousand years, represents seven thousand years; and people can be raised up in their courses, just like they were born over the past thousands of years. 

Deuteronomy 16:14, And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, thy son, thy daughter, thy manservant, thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger [that is the unconverted person] and the fatherless,  and the widow, that are within thy gates. 

16:15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee and all thine increase, and all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice. 

The place that God chose was the temple at Jerusalem.  And the people went up to the Feast year by year after God chose Jerusalem.  But Jesus knew that the temple would be destroyed and that Judea would be occupied and that terrible things would happen; and so He said in Matthew 18—wherever two or three are gathered together I will be there among you. 

If we are gathered together in his name and by God’s command, he promised that he will be among us through God’s Spirit. 

The presence of God is what makes a convocation holy.  Just meeting together is not holy.  Holy is when God is present. 

In addition if we are there, kind of doing our own thing, and rejecting knowledge and rejecting truth, rejecting spiritual growth, rejecting some of the commandments, and not keeping the Feast on the day God commands and not keeping it  in the way that God commands; the Feast is not holy because God is not going to be there. 

The whole family is to go to the Feast whenever possible.  Of course, God understands if there is a pregnancy or an illness, things like that, and there are some people of great age who have reached the point where they are frail in terms of traveling:  But certainly every effort should be made whenever possible and God understands all these things, but he wants everyone possible to come before him. 

The Feast is to be a gathering of God’s people in the place that God chooses. 

God chose Jerusalem, however knowing that the temple would be destroyed and his faithful scattered, Jesus said: Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. 

If we are gathered together to serve God and we are gathered according to God’s commandment, and we are seeking to live by every Word of God, God the Father and Jesus  Christ will be there through the agency of the Holy Spirit. 

Today, God dwells in his people; we have become the spiritual temple of the Holy Spirit, we are now the spiritual temple of God. 

So in effect, all truly converted people have Christ dwelling in them through God’s Spirit, if we are faithful to him.  Therefore, we can keep the feast together in an area outside Jerusalem because we are still the temple, and it is the temple where God placed his name [his presence].  The temple of Jerusalem is gone but God has placed his name in us; God is dwelling in us. 

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?  3:17 If any man defile the temple of God [by sinning], him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 

How do we defile the temple of God?  By deliberately accepting false teachings and false doctrine;  by clinging to false things when we know they are false, or by making excuses to justify false things, or by being spiritually lazy and not questioning what we are taught by the whole Word of God..

For example, Nehemiah said we must not buy food or drink on the Sabbath day.  And I have heard it from more than one minister who said; “oh, that was just for those days, or that was just for the Jews, or they were having a revival in those days.” 

We most certainly are in need of a revival today! 

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  1. Just a thought! Another reason for living in temporary dwellings at the Feast is to reflect on the second resurrection being a resurrection to temporary dwellings i.e. Flesh and blood in contrast to the first Ressurection. Right now as Solomon said “the living know that they will die but the dead know not anything.” So right now we are quite aware of how fragile we are .
    Thanks James!

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