There is a major prophecy about the Messiah and Sukkot in Isa 9.2-7, so we are going to examine this portion in detail and use it as a “spring-board” into many concepts. In Isa 9.2, there is an idiom right away relating to Sukkot and that is the word “light.” This is an allusion to the great lights at Sukkot called the “Light of the World”, so Isa 9 starts right off alluding to Sukkot. Now, verse one belongs in the previous chapter by context and that is the way it is in a Hebrew published Bible, so that is why we are not starting out with verse 1 in English published Bibles. Then the verse goes on to say this light shines to “those who live in the shadow of death.” This is the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem, so this prophecy has moved from a regional prophecy attached to Isa 8 and 9.1 in English published Bibles, to Jerusalem. We know from the Tamid service that the Kidron is “connected” to the resurrection.
Getting back to the concept of the “Light of the World” at Sukkot, we will find that in the Ezrat Nashim (Court of the Women) there were four posts set up. These poles had four vats on each pole, for a total of sixteen vats. Yeshua made a reference to himself being the “light of the world” on Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day of Sukkot, in the Court of the Women where these lights were in John 8.1-12. The wicks for these lights were made from the undergarments of the Kohanim and they were called “swaddling clothes.” When Yeshua, the “light of the world” was born, he was also wrapped in swaddling clothes, a direct allusion to the festival of Sukkot.
Now, as a side note, any of the seven festivals in Leviticus 23 are called “Hag” meaning a festival. So, when you greeted someone at Sukkot you would say “Hag Sameach” which means “have a joyous festival.” But, Chanukah, Purim or any other festival not in the seven in Lev 23 would not have the designation “Hag.” So you would say “Chanukah Sameach” (Happy Chanukah) or “Purim Sameach (Happy Purim). Hag Sukkot is called the “Festival of Booths.”
We have moved from the Galilee in Isa 9.1 to the Jerusalem area and that will be important. Those who live in the “shadow of death” will have the “light shine upon them.” Then v.3 says there will be an increase in gladness (joy), and they will be glad (joyous) as with the gladness (joy) of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. Gladness or “rejoice” is used four times in that verse. So, one of the idioms for Sukkot is “the season of our joy” and you can see this theme in verse 3. Now, the “hagim” or “festivals” are broken up into two categories: the “joyous” festivals of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Shavuot and Sukkot. The “solemn” festivals are Rosh Ha Shannah and Yom Kippur. The “joyous” festivals are also called the “Shelosh Regalim” or the “three pilgrim festivals” of Unleavened Bread, Shavuot and Sukkot.
Now, when you read Deut 16.13-17 you will see that it is talking about Sukkot, and you will see the terms “rejoice” and “joyful” in v. 14-15. Sukkot is a joyous festival. If a festival is being referred to, and “joy” is being described, then it is Sukkot unless otherwise told. In Isa 9.3, “glad” or “joy” is used four times, as we said, so this ties it into Sukkot because it is a time of “harvest (v 3), the season of their joy.
Whose “yoke of burden” and the “staff on their shoulder” is being broken? Who is the “rod of their oppressor?” In Isa 10.5 it says that Assyria is the rod of the Lord’s anger. In Isa 10.24 it says that the Jewish people are not to fear the Assyrian who strikes them with a rod and lifts up their staff against them. Micah 5.1 says that they (Assyria) will lay siege against them and with a rod they will strike the judge of Israel. Now, we recognize that Micah 5.1 is referring to the Messiah, but it had a fulfillment in Micah’s day, and two kings (Ahaz and Hezekiah) had a problem with the Assyrian’s and were being “struck.” But, there will be a future fulfillment. In fact, Micah 5.1 will be fulfilled at least three times. It was fulfilled in Micah’s day, it was fulfilled with Yeshua, and it will be fulfilled in the Birth-pains.
Ecc 1.9 says, “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun.” This is the idea behind the “Mikrah Kodeshim” or “holy convocations” found in Lev 23.2. Holy convocation (mikrah kodesh) means a “holy rehearsal.” So, the festivals are rehearsals for things that will happen in the future. They are things that have been done, and will be in the future. Ecc 3.15 also says, “That which is has been already, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.” So, let’s move on.
Isa 9.5 says that “every boot of the booted warrior” and “cloak rolled in blood will be for burning fuel for the fire” (remember this phrase). There are several things going on so far and coming together. A prophecy that was going to be fulfilled in Isaiah’s time (King Ahaz and Hezekiah), but there is a prophecy that deals with the first coming of the Messiah also. And, at the same time, it will also deal with the second coming of the Messiah. In studying prophecy, you will have six reference points to deal with:
* Messiah’s First Coming
* Messiah’s Second Coming
* The Birth-pains
* The Messianic Kingdom, Day of the Lord, Sabbath of God, Lord’s Day, Atid Lavo (“in that day”; “in those days”, etc)
* Olam Haba, the Eighth Day, L’Olam Vaed, Forever and Ever, New Jerusalem, Gan Eden
We have several Sukkot themes emerging: “light”, “joy” and “harvest.” But, in verses 4-5 we seem to have a problem. An enemy has been defeated and there is a massive celebration that follows. So, an enemy is being defeated around Sukkot, but who is it?
In John 7.2-14 we have the feast of Sukkot, and we know that Yeshua was teaching (v 14). Sukkot begins on Tishri 15 and goes till the 21st, for a total of seven days. Tishri 22nd is Shemini Atzeret, the “eighth day” or “conclusion.” Tishri 15 is always a Sabbath (Shabbaton), and we don’t have another till Tishri 22 and Shemini Atzeret (another Shabbaton). It is connected to Sukkot. So, the “days in between the 16th through the 21st are called “Chol ha Moed” or the “intermediate days” of Sukkot. These days do not have the same kedusha as the Shabbaton’s. Yeshua went up to the festival during a Chol ha Moed (v 10-14). Because Tishri 15 is a Sabbath (Shabbaton) you will have Torah and Haftorah (Prophets) readings. You will also have a weekly Sabbath during that week, with Torah and Haftorah readings. On Shemini Atzeret you will have Torah and Haftorah readings as well. The most famous Torah reading during the year is Gen 22 and the Akedah, or “Binding of the Sacrifice” on Rosh ha Shannah. But, the most famous Haftorah’s are the ones during Sukkot.
In the Artscroll commentary on “Ezekiel” it says on p. 850, “A portion of our two chapters (38.18 through 39.16) is the Haftorah of the intermediate Sabbath of Sukkot. According to Rashi, the reason is that the wars of Gog and Magog are also the subject of Zechariah 12, which is the Haftorah of the first day of Sukkot (Tishri 15) and which, in Rashi’s view, was chosen because of the prediction contained in it that those nations who would survive the wars would join Israel every year in celebrating the Sukkot festival. Nimukei Yosef to Megillah quotes a tradition from R. Hai Gaon that the victory over Gog and Magog will take place in the month of Tishri, the same month within which Sukkot occurs.” Ezekiel 37, right before the Haftorah for the intermediate Sabbath of Sukkot, deals with the “dry bones” prophecy, which is a promise of the Messiah, the Mishkan and the Temple being restored (37.25-28). Then comes the war of Gog and Magog.
So, when Yeshua was teaching in the Temple during Sukkot, what was he teaching? He was teaching about the war of Gog and Magog and the future redemption of Israel (John 7.14). Now, if you are in Jerusalem today and someone brings up “the battle of Armageddon” people don’t listen and the topic will change. The terms “tribulation” and “Armageddon” are Christian terms and concepts and it has no relevance to Jews. But, when someone brings up the war with Gog and Magog, they can relate to it because it has everything to do with Israel. Isa 9.4-5 relates to the war with Gog and Magog, even the burning of the boots and cloaks for fuel (see Ezek 39.9-10).
In Part 35, we will pick up here and continue discussing some of the ceremonies of Sukkot and the spiritual applications of the festival.