Tabernacles and Transfiguration

Most Old Testament feasts have a New Testament counterpart. Passover becomes Easter/Pascha. Pentecost retains it name but takes on a Christian character. The Feast of Tabernacles/Booths becomes the Transfiguration of Christ.

After Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt they entered the desert on the road to the Promised Land. Due to the stubbornness of the people, they continued wandering the deserts as nomads for 40 years.

The Feast of Tabernacles at its simplest understanding is a remembrance of this journey. The people were required to build these outdoor booths and live in them during the celebration. I don't know if the parents were excited about erecting a booth and leaving the comforts of a permanent dwelling, but I bet the kids were thrilled. I know my boys get excited about the prospect of camping. The prospects of helping dad build a lean-to for the whole family would be an annual adventure.

Other than a remembrance of their temporary dwellings, the Feast had other characteristics:

  1. This feast was the feast of ingathering, And was third in order of the annual feasts (Exodus 23:16). It was inaugurated on the fifteenth of Tishri (Sept/Oct), and lasted seven days (Leviticus 23:33-44).
  2. The people dwelt in booths formed of the branches of trees in commemoration of their temporary habitations during the journey through the wilderness (Leviticus 23:34-44). This is an image of freedom as opposed to their Egypt-slave dwellings they had escaped.
  3. It was inaugurated by a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:36)
  4. When it occurred in the Sabbatical year, portions of the law Were read publicly each day to men, women, children and Strangers (Deuteronomy 31:10-13)
  5. Celebration of the harvest of grain and wine.
  6. The great themes were God’s provision for the people and God’s dwelling with His people.

The Festival of Booths was a feast of the dwelling of God with men. It was at this feast Jesus reveals Himself to three of His disciples.

Jesus and three disciples (Peter, James & John) ascend a mountain, Jesus transforms and Moses and Elijah appear. You can imagine the shock of the disciples. Peter not knowing what to do, speaks: "Jesus, we are celebrating the Feasts of Booths, Moses and Elijah are here, let's build them booths as well."

Obviously, Peter missed the point, but most of us would have as well. The Father announces from heaven, Jesus is the Son of God. God now dwells bodily among men.

"On the Mountain You were Transfigured,O Christ God,
And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it;
So that when they would behold You crucified,
They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,
And would proclaim to the world,
That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!"
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