Jonathan Bernis - What Sukkot Means For You
Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice, where we help you to understand the Jewish roots of your Christian faith, Bible prophecy, and why you should stand with Israel. I'm rabbi Jonathan Bernis and today, my co-host, Ezra Benjamin is joining me once again as we celebrate the festival of Sukkot. This week, we're observing one of the appointed times of the Lord, and you'll learn today, why it's also called the feast of tabernacles and God's purpose behind this important celebration. Ezra, this is the final wrap-up, isn't it? The final event in God's prophetic history. Sukkot, it was the final harvest of the year, but it also has implications for every follower of Jesus the Messiah.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, so important for you at home to understand. Jonathan, let me back up for a minute. This idea of appointed times or "Moedim" in Hebrew, why are these so important for Christians? If these are Jewish holidays, what's the significance for non-Jewish believers in Jesus?
Jonathan Bernis: And that's, I'm sure you're watching, asking that very question. This is not just the Jewish feast. I was raised with an understanding that we had our own holidays, our Jewish holidays, and Christians had theirs, and they too were completely separated. In reality, there are divinely appointed times, we call them moedim. There're appointed times of the Lord that are part of the divine calendar, biblical calendar that is to, transcends this earth or heavenly. These are moments, historical events, but more than historical events they have a direct fulfillment, but they also have a prophetic or continuing fulfillment because they are supernatural, they're divine. Ezra, they are God's timetable, they're God's calendar. This is God's day-timer, if you will, and every appointed time has not only a direct fulfillment, either through an event that was historical or through a harvest, but points to Jesus. I wanna go back and read something that I read or show it. In Colossians 2:16, we're told that the sabbath, the new moons, the festivals, it wasn't the thing themselves, we aren't judged for the thing itself, but they all pointed to Christ. They all point to the Messiah, be it his first coming or his return because they're a part of God's redemptive plan, they're markers, they're bookmarkers in God's prophetic calendar for the world, not just for the Jewish people, and they're important to everyone.
Ezra Benjamin: Definitely. So, the reason these are important to our audience at home is because these aren't just things that the rabbis made up, these aren't just Jewish traditions, these are actually biblical appointed times that have a significance on earth and in heaven.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and they weren't just given to the Jewish people, they're not just given to Israel because they have further significance in Messiah. Let me give you an example. This week, we're celebrating tabernacles, we're celebrating, we call "Sukkot" in Hebrew, but it's the feast of tabernacles or booths. They remember the Exodus out of Egypt and the call to move when the cloud moves, so we just had simple dwelling places.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure.
Jonathan Bernis: And so, for a week we set up a temporary booth in our backyard, on our porch, wherever, and we eat our meals there. And you see them all over Israel, you see them, of course, in Jewish communities.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure.
Jonathan Bernis: But here's what it says in Zechariah in chapter 14, listen to this. In Zechariah 14, which the context of chapter 14 is the last days, it's talking about the day of the Lord coming, and there being great turmoil in Jerusalem, and in fact, the world. And look what it says here in chapter 14 verse 16: "Then the survivors from all the nations," that's, "All the nations of the world that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the king, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the feast of tabernacles. If any", verse 17, "If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the king, they will have no rain". When? On the feast of tabernacles.
Ezra Benjamin: Wow!
Jonathan Bernis: That just turns it into a universal feast, a universal day of remembrance or celebration that involves all the nations of the world, unfortunately, that survived the last days.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, so not just a command for the Jewish people, but we see in Zechariah, clearly, that this is actually a command for all the nations of the earth to keep this Jewish feast.
Jonathan Bernis: With a consequence. You don't celebrate the feast of tabernacles, you don't get rain.
Ezra Benjamin: Wow, serious.
Jonathan Bernis: So, it makes it a universal day of observance.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure.
Jonathan Bernis: And this is an illustration of all of the appointed times that are not Old Testament Jewish things that have passed away but remain eternal. We talk about Passover, the watershed event in Jewish history, but it's not just Jewish history, it's not just the Exodus out of Egypt, it points to the greater revelation, the greater redemption in the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Last week, Ezra, we talked about Yom Kippur, the day of atonement and the idea that during that moment, that day, the high priest would lay hands on two goats. One of them would be sent off into the wilderness bearing the sins of the people. Who is that? The greater fulfillment is Jesus, Yeshua. He is taken to a desolate place in the crucifixion, and he dies outside the city in this desolate place, and just like the scape goat, he is the scapegoat who bears our sins in his body.
Ezra Benjamin: So, the fulfillment of that day of covering, that day of atonement is Yeshua, Jesus himself, our scapegoat.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. So, now we have Sukkot which has huge prophetic significance for all the nations of the world.
Ezra Benjamin: We've covered, Jonathan, what Jesus has to do with Yom Kippur, with the day of atonement, but what does he have to do with feast of tabernacles?
Jonathan Bernis: Well, I'm glad you asked. So, Sukkot, in the calendar of the year, in the cycle of the year, Leviticus 23, is the final harvest, it's the final ingathering of the crops, it's an agricultural feast, but it's also the final ingathering spiritually. So, watch this now. We see this a couple of times in the New Testament, one of them is Matthew 24 beginning in verse 31. Listen to this now. This is talking about the time of the end, the Son of Man. I'll actually go back to verse 30: "They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other". That's Sukkot language, "He will gather his elect". So, the final ingathering, the final harvest, but watch the imagery.
Ezra Benjamin: Okay.
Jonathan Bernis: It's not a trumpet that's being sounded, it's a shofar. This, it's a ram horn. So, imagine this.. The call goes out, Jesus is now returning, and in this process, now this connects the fall feasts. You have the feast of trumpets, which is the warning, the gathering call, the Messiah returns, they look up on him who they have pierced, and they mourn for him the salvation of Israel as they recognize Jesus as their Messiah. And then the final gathering, that's Sukkot, that's the feast of tabernacles, he's sending his angels to gather the elect together, and we enter into the Messianic age or the millennial reign of the Messiah.
Ezra Benjamin: So, not just the agricultural meaning of Sukkot, the ingathering of the final harvest, but actually, a much more significant spiritual meaning, the ingathering of God's chosen people.
Jonathan Bernis: Much more. And it involves not just Israel, it involves the nations, and in particular, believers in the Messiah. So, this feast is for you: this is an appointed time for you. You need to learn about Sukkot, the feast of tabernacles. Well, we have to take a quick break, but we'll be right back to discuss what the exciting prophetic significance of the last feast of the year means for you, so don't go away.
Jonathan Bernis: I just want to take a moment to express my appreciation on behalf of our ministry for your prayers and ongoing financial support. You're making all the difference and enabling us to reach Jewish people and their neighbors with free medical, dental, eye care, and most importantly, the gospel, and it's making all the difference, it really is. Well, Ezra and I are talking about Sukkot, the feast of booths or the feast of tabernacles, and this is an ingathering. Ezra, I believe, right now, as people watch, that they can claim, you can claim this blessing of ingathering, it's a harvest. Maybe your children have strayed from the Lord, maybe your grandchildren have strayed from the Lord, maybe your spouse has strayed from your family, not just the Lord. This is the time to call them back. This week is the ingathering, it's the harvest. The angels of God are being dispatched right now to draw your loved ones back, back to him, back to you, back to, he wants to restore families right now. This is the opportunity to. This is a divine appointment with God as we observe the feast of tabernacles this week.
Ezra Benjamin: So important. So critically important for you at home to understand. Jonathan, we know that the feast of tabernacles relates back to our people dwelling in booths or Sukkot, a booth is a "Sukkah" in Hebrew, after the Exodus from Egypt, but talk to us a little bit more about this idea of dwelling with the Lord, this idea that in the future, God's going to dwell with men like we dwelled in booths.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. Well, of course, the promise of the Messianic age before the millennium, the idea of the millennium came along, which is from revelation 20:1-6, a thousand-year reign, the hope of Israel, the hope of the Jewish people was the coming of the Messiah and a Messianic age.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: And that will happen whether it's a literal thousand years or not, I'm not gonna say, emphatically. But I will say, emphatically, that Jesus, Yeshua is going to return in physical form to Jerusalem. Not heavenly Jerusalem, physical Jerusalem, and establish his earthly reign in physical form. He's going to rule and reign out of Jerusalem.
Ezra Benjamin: Wow.
Jonathan Bernis: That's fundamental to our faith. It needs to be fundamental to your faith. There's another thing I wanna talk about, Ezra, also, and that is the idea of dwelling in booths which are very simple. This idea of just a very simple dwelling is the idea that we're not here permanently, we're sojourners in this land. Our citizenship is not in America or England, or any other nation, it's in heaven. And so, we need to live life in this transient state in booths or tabernacles. Why? Because when the cloud moves, we move. When the pillar moves, a fire moves, we move. And this is a great week to remember that, that we're on assignment, and we need to be ready to move. We don't wanna get anchored to this world, we want to be anchored as citizens of heaven. That's a great message to just, and I talk about it quite a bit in my teachings on Sukkot.
Ezra Benjamin: Definitely. And Jonathan, actually, our people, if you look at the materials that we're commanded to build these Sukkot with once a year, they're materials that can't last long. In essence, God's saying, "I want you to build something that can't last forever". Just like our bodies and this, you know, the earth that we dwell in, it can't last forever, but we're supposed to remember that there's a greater reality, an eternal reality that God tabernacles with us.
Jonathan Bernis: Absolutely. And again, it's temporary. Who knows when God will, we gain the whole world, and we lose our own soul. Who knows the moment that our life will be taken?
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.
Jonathan Bernis: Who knows? Paul says to be absent in the body for a believer is to be present with the Lord. Now, that's the assurance that we have. But if we don't have that, then what do we have?
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: We gain the whole world, we gain nothing.
Ezra Benjamin: Right. And what a good time for us as Jewish people and for you at home to remember that these bodies that we're tabernacling in can't last forever.
Jonathan Bernis: They can't, you know. Understand that people get sick because we live in a fallen world, people hurt one another because we live in a fallen world, but we have the mercies of God and they're new every morning. I want you to receive this because some of you are going through real trials this week, the good news is that we're celebrating a greater reality this week as we observe the feast of tabernacles. Not only is life transient, but we're next to the pillar of fire, we're in the presence of God through this, so we may go through the storm, we may go through the fire, we may go into the furnace, but guess who's with us? The Son of Man is right alongside of us and he's right alongside of you today.
Ezra Benjamin: What an eternal reality. Jonathan, I didn't, I can feel the Spirit of God just ministering to our audience right now. Things that are temporary, things that won't last forever, but the promises of God which do last forever, which are eternal.
Jonathan Bernis: Look, the promise is for you. This is not a Jewish thing, this is a God thing, a God moment for you, okay? This is a God moment for you. And some of you are going through some real unrest in your life because he wants you to move out of the situation you're in now. The pillar of fire is moving, and he wants you to move with him into the next chapter of your life. Folks, you may be going through turmoil but it's a good thing because it's time to move with the Lord, and he's going to bring you into a whole new chapter. I love this week.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, me too.
Jonathan Bernis: I love this week. And I love what it reminds me of.
Ezra Benjamin: So much. It's awesome how the fall feasts, the spring feasts, the appointed times of God point us to heavenly, eternal realities for our people and for you at home. Jonathan, for one of our viewers is sitting at home right now and saying, you know, "Yes, something's stirring within me. I wanna take hold of the promises of God surrounding these feasts, feast of tabernacles and all the Jewish appointed times, but I don't know how to do it". Point them in the right direction.
Jonathan Bernis: So, here's a simple one, Ezra. Build a tabernacle in your, build a booth in your backyard and have all the family eat dinner together there for a week. Here's the beauty of that. Just like sabbath, that sabbath table is an anchor. We're living in a time now where everybody's running to and fro, when kids are texting each other across the table, that's a problem when it comes to family, the sanctity of family, being together, fellowshipping together. Build a Sukkot and make it an exciting event, and say, "Every night this week, we're gonna eat under this booth". That cool.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.
Jonathan Bernis: And it draws the family together, it's different scenery, you smell the fresh branches, and it's just fun.
Ezra Benjamin: Setting the stage for an ingathering.
Jonathan Bernis: You know, my kids have a little sukkah that, ‘cause, you know, it gets really hot in Phoenix, and we have some snakes out back, and so, we set it up in the house, and they sleep in the sukkah at night, the two girls, and it's a blast for them, it's exciting for them, it's a different scene. Let me go to where I started this, Zechariah 14, which talks about this not being a Jewish issue or celebration for Israel but for the nations. It says that, "The nations of the world," in Zechariah 14, "Will go up to Jerusalem to worship the king, the Lord Almighty, on tabernacles, on Sukkot, and if they don't, they'll have no rain". Well guess what? The opposite is true. If they do, there will be rain.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.
Jonathan Bernis: There's a blessing in this for you. There's a blessing in this for your family. Something as simple as having a booth and eating a meal there, the blessing of God is gonna be poured out on you. Also, this ingathering and the idea that you can call back that which is gone, that which has been lost. You can call it back, you can call family members, you can call your spouse back. This is the week to do that. And we're agreeing with you in prayer, by faith, in the name of Yeshua. Well, we have to take a short break, but we'll be right back with our "Ask the rabbi" segment and pray over you and your household, so stay with us.
Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back to the program. Today, we've been talking about the feast of booths or tabernacles, Sukkot, and what it means to you as a believer. This is an eternal observance, an eternal moad, remembrance, appointed time, and I really encourage you to celebrate this in your own home. Now, we're going to jump right into a few questions that we've received from you, our viewers. Ezra, I love hearing from our viewers, I love answering questions. We get some many, but we've chosen just a few, so let's jump in.
Ezra Benjamin: We've got some fantastic ones again today, Jonathan. First of all, Larry from nampa, Idaho asks, "I've heard that the observance of Sukkot is a celebration of God being present in all circumstances, is this true"?
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, Larry. I think it is impart. The idea of Sukkot is that we're living in booths, that our life is transient, and that we're ready to move with the Lord. So, I think it's true when we actually follow that and we're moving when the cloud moves or the pillar of fire moves, that's the idea here, that this life is temporary, we're on assignment, and the objective is to stay in the will of God, to stay in the flow of God's blessing. When we pray according to his will, he hears us. It's about getting into his will. How do we do that? By seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness, and everything else will be added to you. I think that's a great verse that typifies the feast of tabernacles. Good question.
Ezra Benjamin: Very good. Next up is Aaron from Greeley, Colorado. Aaron asks, "Have you ever built a hut and lived in it during a Sukkot celebration"?
Jonathan Bernis: My kids do live in their little tent that we set up inside our family room. So, I haven't done that. I don't think I've ever lived for seven days in a booth. I've eaten my meals there and really enjoyed that whole experience as a family and growing up, but I haven't. Have you, Ezra?
Ezra Benjamin: Never for the whole time. Again, Phoenix makes it very difficult, but...
Jonathan Bernis: I have friends that do and it's a blast, you know, the family loves it, it's an adventure, but in Phoenix, yeah.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, hard to do. Next up is Meg from Richland, Washington. Meg asks, "Should the observance of Jewish holidays always be solemn? It is sacrilegious to teach about the holiday by only observing certain portions of it"?
Jonathan Bernis: Well, I think there's certain portions of the holiday in its context that we can't observe. We're not going to bring in a barley harvest on, you know, on first fruits. We're not gonna, in most cases, we're not going to yield a wheat harvest.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure.
Jonathan Bernis: So, yeah. There're selective things that we can do, things that are particularly important. On Passover, I don't eat leavened bread for seven days, and I think there's an important message in that. What's the heart of it? And what points to Yeshua that matters to us today. I think those are things to consider. But yeah, there is picking and choosing. Remember, the original context for the appointed times, the fall feasts, were living in Israel at a specific time, but the implication or the greater fulfillment in Messiah is what means everything to us, and we have to kind of sort that out.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure, sure.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, good question again. Wow!
Ezra Benjamin: Mikala from Sumter, South Carolina asks, very simply, "What does the word 'Sukkot' mean"?
Jonathan Bernis: Mikala, easy answer. It's about booths. Sukkot is the plural of "Sukkah" which is a temporary dwelling that has branches and frawns. And for seven days, we're living, we're certainly eating meals, and remembering the children of Israel who lived a transient life and moved when the Lord moves or said it's time to move and his presence moved. We move with the presence of God. It means booths or tabernacles, temporary dwellings.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah. Jonathan, I know we wanna pray for our audience before we run out of time today.
Jonathan Bernis: We do. We do. This is in a great week to pray for the ingathering of family that have departed. Maybe your spouse has left and you're praying for them to return. Well, this is the week. Latch onto this promise that God wants to through the dispatch of his angels regather people to himself and to each other, to family. "And so, we agree, in the name of Jesus, in the name of Yeshua, for ingathering. Lord, thank you for bringing back the children, and the grandchildren, and the spouse, and the loved ones, the mothers, and the fathers, the brothers, and the sisters, and the friends, bringing them back to you if they've strayed. Lord, bring them back to each other, back to family, we declare it during this week of ingathering. And Lord, for those that are stuck, kind of just stuck, Lord, may they move now with you in your presence. We speak the presence of the living God into your life, into every situation, in Jesus name". We agree together in the name of Yeshua. Well, if you have prayer needs or you'd like more information about our ministry, you can log on to our website, it's jewishvoice.tv, just one word. jewishvoice.tv. We have lots of resources for you on our site. Just know this as we finish the program, God loves you and so do we. We're here for you. As we close our program, I also wanna remind you, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem". Psalm 122:6, exhorts us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, so please, pray for the Jewish people during this important week of tabernacles. Until next time, this is Jonathan Bernis with Ezra Benjamin saying shalom and God bless you.