Sukkot, in its primary application, is a great wedding supper with joy. All the year has a goal of pointing towards Sukkot and illustrates this supper. Every meal consecrated to God (also called “the Lord’s Supper”) points to this. This vision of when the Messiah returns sustains us in times of trouble and we are reminded that we are a “sojourner” and just “passing through” this world, while dwelling in a sukkah, a temporary shelter called our body, that is illustrated by the sukkah’s made during Sukkot.
Now, the book of Psalms is divided up into five books, just like the Torah. Book 1 is called “Bereshit” and goes from Psalm 1 to 41. Book 2 is called “Shemot” and it goes from Psalm 42 to 72. Book 3 is called “Vayikra” and goes from Psalm 73 to 89. Book 4 is called “B’Midbar” and goes from Psalm 90 to 106. Book 5 is called “Devarim” and goes from Psalm 107 to 150. Certain sections of the psalms are designated for certain times. The Hallel (meaning “praise”) goes from Psalm 113 to 118 and is read five times a year. The Great Hallel is Psalm 136. There certain psalms read for certain days of the week. The Psalms of Ascent go from Psalm 120 to 134. These were read when going to Jerusalem or ascending the courts in the Temple. They were quoted from in 1967 when Jerusalem was taken (Psa 122.2).
Anciently, there was a procession to the festivals from the various towns in Israel, with one who played the flute, called “the pierced one” who led this procession. There was a bullock that had gold myrtle through its horns and was offered as a “korban olah” once in Jerusalem. You also had singers. There were 24 districts with Levitical cities in each district. The head of the people would come into the city square and cry “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob (Isa 2.3).” The people would answer “It is good to go up to the house of the Lord.” Then the flute player, the bullock and the singers would go out, with the people following. Other districts would join in along the way. They would sing Psa 122.1 as they left. They would sing Psa 84 as they went and when Jerusalem came into view on the east side of the Mount of Olives, they would sing Psa 125.2. A delegation was sent ahead and the people refreshed themselves at what is called the “apostles fountain.” The delegation came back and the people were greeted in the name of the Lord and escorted in. At the gates of the city they sang Psa 122.2 and Psa 24. In the courts they sang Psa 150. Psa 122.3 says that they are “compact” which means “united.” They were united by the Torah, the Temple and the festivals. There is a concept of the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Jerusalem (Heb 11.10, 12.22; Rev 21.1-2). At Sukkot, the idea was that the heavenly Jerusalem came down and was united with the earthly Jerusalem (Torah Anthology by Kaplan, p 85-86). This concept can be seen in Rev 21.1-2. At the Sabbath, there is a passage that is read called the “Lecha Dodi.” If you get a Jewish prayer book, you can read this prayer. In the synagogue, at the last verse, you stand and face the door and the mourners enter, which is a picture of the exiles coming home and being comforted. Again, the Sabbath is a picture of the Messianic Kingdom, and Sukkot illustrates this concept also.
During Sukkot, there are several biblical customs. Sukkah’s are built (if you are a native born Israeli and you live in the land-Lev 23.34,42). They were to “rejoice” and it is mentioned three times in the Torah (Deut 14.26, 16.14,15) when all other festivals rejoice is mentioned once. There is the “lulavim” that is made, which consists of what is called the “four species” of palm, myrtle, willow and a citron. Sukkot is called “the festival of the nations” where 70 bulls (picturing the 70 nations) are offered over seven days (Num 29.12-32). Four posts with four vats of oil each (for a total of 16) are erected in the court of the Women in the Temple. These vats had the swaddling cloths of the priests as wicks, and these were lit every night, and called “the light of the world.” The priests would circle the Altar once daily waving willow branches, and seven times on the seventh day of Sukkot called “Hoshanna Rabbah.” These priests waved these branches, swaying back and forth, causing a “ruach” or “wind” with a “swooshing” sound, all the while singing. A priest would ascend the Altar, with smoke rising, and pour water and wine on it. While this is happening, they sing what is called the “Ushavtem” based on Isa 12.3. Now, this was the setting in John 7.1-53. Yeshua declares that “rivers of living water” would come from those who believe in him as the Messiah, and this water is the “Spirit” or “ruach” that would come (John 7.37-39). As we see, “mayim chaim” (“living water) is the theme of Sukkot and this “water” is linked the “Spirit” of God (Ezek 47). Ezek 43.1-5 has the Ruach ha Kodesh (the Holy Spirit) coming into the Temple, and the Lord’s voice was like the sound of many waters. This passage is the haftorah reading for the festival of Shavuot, which is exactly what happened in Acts 2.
So, what we have here is Shavuot and Sukkot are linked together. Agriculturally, the first and second tithe were brought on these festivals (2 Chr 31.4-7). Spiritually, water is the main theme of Sukkot, and the haftorah for Shavuot has the Ruach entering into the Temple. Passover was not over till Shavuot, and Shavuot was not over till the 8th day of Sukkot, called Shemini Atzeret. Therefore, Passover was not over till Shemini Atzeret. These festivals will “overlap” with each other, related to the harvest, with the beginning related to the end. For instance, people today don’t balance their yearly accounting records till January, not December, because business was not “wrapped up” till December 31st. In Part 21 and the conclusion, we will finish this concept of Sukkot and the coming of the Messiah, the harvest and eschatology.