The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles culminates the prophetic holy days in the divine law. There were, of course, feast days and days of fasting that were added later, and these might also prove to have prophetic significance. However, the law of Moses provides us with the full revelation of the main events surrounding the two comings of Christ, His work in each coming, and how each promotes the kingdom of God in its development in the earth.
The basic law of the Feast of Tabernacles is found in Leviticus 23:33-44,
33 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 34 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD. 35 'On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind. 36 'For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work.
37 These are the appointed times [Heb. moed] of the LORD which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, to present offerings by fire to the LORD-- burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and libations, each day's matter on its own day-- 38 besides those of the sabbaths of the LORD, and besides your gifts, and besides all your votive and freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD.
39 On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. 40 Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. 41 You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, 43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. 44 So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times [Heb. moed] of the LORD.
The Feast of Tabernacles was to be celebrated for a full seven days from the 15th day of the seventh month (called Tisri) through the 21st day. The final ceremonies were then held on the eighth day of Tabernacles, which was the 22nd day of the seventh month. The first day (the 15th of the month) was to be a day of rest (sabbath), and the eighth day (the 22nd of the month) was also to be a day of rest.
The passage above was mainly designed to give us the timing of the feast. It sets forth the WHEN and gives us only one detail as to HOW to keep this feast. We read that the people were to cut down branches of trees and build for themselves booths, or tabernacles, and camp in them for the week. The reason given is to commemorate Israel's 40-year sojourn in the wilderness after they left Egypt, during which time they lived in tents or booths.
It is also important to note that these feast days are called "the appointed times of the LORD." The Hebrew term is moed, which means appointed time or appointed place. These are the prophesied dates that God has set. Because Passover was the appointed time of the Lord, it was the day that Jesus would be crucified. Because the wave-sheaf offering was the appointed time, it was the day Jesus would be raised from the dead. Because the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) was the appointed time, it was the day the Spirit would be sent to the disciples in the upper room.
Likewise, the Feast of Trumpets is the appointed time for the resurrection of the dead. The Day of Atonement is the appointed time for the Church to repent and mourn for its refusal to enter into the fullness of the Spirit, their "Promised Land." And finally, the Feast of Tabernacles is the appointed time for the change to take place in our bodies, where the overcomers will receive their tabernacle which is from heaven and not made with human hands (2 Cor. 5:1).
Of course, one must keep in mind that the personal application of these feasts is not time dependent. One can be justified by faith (Passover) or filled with the Spirit (Pentecost) at any time. However, when it comes to the historical fulfillments of prophecy, there are fixed appointed times that cannot be altered.
How often we hear the statement from the pulpit, "Jesus is coming soon, and it could be any day, morning, noon, or night." That is like saying Jesus could have been crucified on any day of the year or at any time of the day. It simply is not true. There are appointed times for these events to happen, and while we do NOT know the year that these events will be fulfilled, we do know the appointed times during the year. There are some things that God has kept secret from us, but those things that He has revealed belong to us. Deuteronomy 29:29 says,
29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
God often hides things in plain sight. For example, Jesus' death on the cross was described in Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and other places, but these things were hidden from the eyes of most of the people until they were fulfilled. And even then, most of the people did not see the truth or refused to see it. There is no reason to think the situation is any different today in regard to the second set of appointed times--the autumn feast days. And yet, because the time of fulfillment is near, God is beginning to reveal His appointed times in a greater way. Though we should certainly exercise some caution about predicting the return of Christ, we should also study the things that have already been revealed in the Word of God.
The Purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles
Leviticus 23:43, quoted earlier, says only that they were to live in booths for seven days in commemoration of Israel's dwelling in booths during their forty years in the wilderness. We accept this as truth, of course, but there is more to it than that. Later, God did reveal more about this feast than is recorded in Leviticus 23. Even so, this is a good place to begin our study.
Numbers 33:5 tells us that when Israel began their departure from Egypt, they left from the town of Rameses and went to Succoth. Here they picked up the bones of Joseph to bring with them to the Promised Land (Exodus 13:19 and 20). In other words, Succoth was their first encampment as they departed out of Egypt. Succoth means "booths, tabernacles." It is the same Hebrew word used for the Feast of Tabernacles. So at first glance it might seem as though the Feast of Tabernacles should be celebrated on Passover. But this is not the established day for this feast. The question is, why was Israel's first encampment at the town of Succoth? In what sense does it signify the Feast of Tabernacles?
First of all, God often tells the end from the beginning. He does this to give people a vision of their goal, in order that they might be encouraged during the long journey. But when people first receive a vision or calling, they tend to think it is closer than it is. The vision is so clear that they can almost touch it. Who among the Israelites leaving Egypt thought it would take forty years to get to the Promised Land? Not even Moses knew this. If anyone had known this, they probably would never have left Egypt.
God gave Israel a vision of Tabernacles from the beginning of their journey. Their instructions were to dwell in booths during their sojourn in the wilderness. This was designed to keep them from becoming too settled in the wilderness. For the Church under Pentecost, this lesson tells us that we should not become too settled and comfortable in our own 40-Jubilee sojourn, lest we build denominational houses and think we are now in the Promised Land.
Throughout the Age of Pentecost, the Church should remain in "booths" and keep the vision of Tabernacles alive. In our journey through the wilderness, we should carry the bones of Joseph with us. That is, we must understand that we have not yet reached immortality, but are still in the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1). Nor have we come to the second coming of Christ, which we will later see as a Joseph work, where He comes with His robe dipped in blood (Rev. 19:13; Genesis 37:31). The promise of Succoth is our HOPE, but is not yet a fully experiential reality in our lives. The wilderness is the place where we carry around the bones of Joseph.
The wilderness is no place to settle in a permanent house. It is only a transition stage. Abraham himself confessed that he was but a stranger and pilgrim in the land, because he sought the city of the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:13-16). His life in Canaan was his own wilderness experience. And yet Abraham had the faith to see the promise, and it was counted to him for righteousness. In like manner, the church in the wilderness was to have faith in the promise of God, not only by carrying the bones of Joseph, but also by dwelling in booths.
Unfortunately, the Church largely threw away the divine law, including the Feast of Booths, and built many denominational houses along the way. Most people settled down in a denomination, convinced that its priesthood or clergy possessed all the truth that was necessary to "get to heaven." Many of these Christian sojourners were then left behind when the pillar of cloud moved to the next oasis to teach them something new.
Christians largely lost the vision of Tabernacles and forgot that there was ever such a feast day. In the twentieth century there have been thousands of books written about the second coming of Christ, but only a tiny fraction of them show the slightest knowledge of the autumn feasts, which are God's appointed times. As a result, many strange doctrines are being taught with few people questioning the validity of those teachings.
But it is not our purpose to criticize the Church or any portion of it. Our purpose is to help those who want to learn more of those parts of the Word that are not normally taught in their particular church or study group. Our purpose is to reveal the meaning of these feast days, in order that Christians may believe what is written in the Word. In this chapter our purpose is to show that the Feast of Tabernacles is the appointed time for the bodily change--what Paul calls "the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). The apostle also says in 1 Corinthians 15:51,
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep [i.e., "die"], but we shall all be changed [Greek: allasso, "to change, exchange one thing for another, transform"].
In other words, we will exchange one body for another. Our present "house" or "tabernacle" is mortal and imperfect, limited by many earthly factors. In the Feast of Tabernacles we will exchange this house for another. We will move from our present earthly house to a house depicted by the booths made of tree branches. The booths are made of materials that are LIVING. In the redemption of our body, the LIVING body that we lost through Adam's sin (debt) will be redeemed. This is our true inheritance, our true Promised Land on the highest level of meaning.
Solomon Celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles
Our first written example of the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles is in the days of Solomon. When Solomon dedicated the temple, the glory of God filled it on the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles. 2 Chronicles 5:1-3 says,
1 Thus all the work that Solomon performed for the house of the LORD was finished. And Solomon brought in the things that David his father had dedicated, even the silver and the gold and all the utensils, and put them in the treasuries of the house of God. 2 Then Solomon assembled to Jerusalem the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers' households of the sons of Israel, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion. 3 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to the king at the feast, that is in the seventh month.
When the 120 priests blew the trumpets in harmony (in one accord) with the singers, the glory filled that house (2 Chron. 5:12-14). 2 Chronicles 7:8-10 says they dedicated the altar for seven days, and then kept the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days:
8 So Solomon observed the feast at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, who came from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt. 9 And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly, for the dedication of the altar they observed seven days, and the feast seven days. 10 Then on the twenty-third day of the seventh month [the day after the eighth of Tabernacles] he sent the people to their tents, rejoicing and happy of heart because of the goodness that the LORD had shown to David and to Solomon and to His people Israel.
This is, of course, prophetic of the time that God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, of which Pentecost was but a downpayment. At the fulfillment of Pentecost there were 120 disciples (Acts 1:15) who also came into one accord before the Spirit was sent. The parallel is obvious. Yet when Jesus prophesied the outpouring of the Spirit in John 7:37-39, He did not do so on the Feast of Pentecost, but on the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles. (See John 7:2, 14, and 37.) This tells us plainly that we did not receive all of our inheritance at Pentecost. The real fulfillment is yet to come, as Ephesians 1:13 and 14 tells us,
13 . . . having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge [earnest] of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Solomon apparently did not know that the people were to construct booths at the Feast of Tabernacles. The account of this celebration simply does not say one way or another, but we learn later from Nehemiah 8:14 that the people had not constructed booths for this feast since the days of Joshua. And so we know that even David and Solomon never celebrated Tabernacles in booths.
It seems incredible that an established feast day would not be celebrated properly for over 900 years from Joshua to Ezra. Yet when we see that the same situation has occurred in the Christian Church as well, it should come as no surprise. We have had no vision of Tabernacles, and neither have we seen the glory of its fulfillment as of now.
A Short Chronological History under Ezra
The remnant of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi returned from the Babylonian captivity under Zerubbabel. They kept the Feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month of that first year after returning from Babylon. A year and two months later, they laid the foundations of the second temple (Ezra 3:4-10) on the 24th day of the ninth month (Haggai 2:18).
It took eighteen years to complete the temple, because of the opposition that they faced, but they finally finished it on the third day of the 12th month (Adar) in the sixth year of Darius the Great of Persia. This was in March of 515 B.C.
Darius reigned for 36 years until 486 B.C. Then his son, Xerxes I, reigned another 21 years to the year 465 B.C. Finally, Artaxerxes came to the throne in 465 B.C., and the first year of his reign is reckoned as the year 464 B.C. He reigned 41 years, but in his seventh year (458 B.C.) another man named Ezra came from Babylon with a decree from the king to offer sacrifices to God at the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:7-26).
Thirteen years later, which was the spring of the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah was sent to Jerusalem with a mandate to rebuild the walls of the city (Nehemiah 2:1). He also served as Governor for twelve years (Neh. 5:14) from 445-433 B.C. His primary mandate was, of course, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Working day and night, they finished this job in just 52 days (Neh. 6:15), from the 3rd day of the fifth month (Av or Ab) to the 25th day of the sixth month (Elul) in 445 B.C.
The next month they kept the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Ezra Celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles
Just one week after the completion of the wall, the people gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Trumpets, and they stayed three weeks through Tabernacles. Nehemiah 8:1 and 2 says,
1 And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel. 2 Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.
That celebration in Ezra's day (445 B.C.) instituted a new tradition of reading the law in the seventh month, beginning with the Feast of Trumpets. To our knowledge, this was the first time the people had ever kept the autumn feasts in this manner. Notice the prophetic pattern here. The law was read in the second temple. The law was read AFTER the Babylonian captivity. The law was read AFTER the walls of Jerusalem had been completed.
The second temple was a pattern of what God is doing IN US, for we are the true temples of God. Haggai's prophecy of the second temple says that it would be more glorious than the first temple under Solomon (Haggai 2:9), and yet that physical structure was nowhere near as glorious as Solomon's temple (Haggai 2:3). Some elderly people, who remembered seeing Solomon's temple, actually wept because it was nothing like the original temple (Ezra 3:12, 13). Even so, Haggai prophesied that the glory of the second temple would be greater than the first. But he was not prophesying about that physical temple. He spoke of a greater temple yet to come, the temple of our bodies, who would be inhabited by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 3:16). In that sense, the first temple is the kind made of wood and stones, while the second is made of living stones.
Haggai's name means "feast," and he is the main biblical prophet of the Feast of Tabernacles. His main prophecy came on the 7th day of Tabernacles (Hag. 2:1). This was when he prophesied of the glory that would come upon the second temple. No doubt they were disappointed when the glory of God did NOT fill that temple the next day, as it had done at Solomon's dedication. Its fulfillment was for a future time in a temple not made with hands. In Acts 2 we find that temple being filled in a Pentecostal fulfillment--that is, a partial fulfillment, an earnest of the Spirit. But we have yet to see the final fulfillment on the eighth day of Tabernacles.
Ezra the scribe read the law from the Feast of Trumpets to the Feast of Tabernacles. This was to prepare the hearts of the people to keep the autumn feasts. Prophetically speaking, it lays the pattern for us today, for we too have been in a Babylonian captivity to an entity called "mystery Babylon" (Rev. 17:5). This is both external and internal. We are certainly in a captivity to the old Adamic nature; however, in addition to this, we must hasten to say that this Adamic nature has manifested itself in the world political, religious, social, and economic systems throughout history. The pattern of Ezra and the second temple suggests that the Feast of Tabernacles will not be fulfilled until we have come out of "mystery Babylon."
The walls of the New Jerusalem must also be built in some manner--whatever this might mean on the prophetic level. The wall is depicted symbolically in Revelation 21:12-14 with foundation stones made of precious stones reminiscent of the stones in the high priest's breastplate. Zechariah 2:5 speaks of the New Jerusalem as "towns without walls" and yet having a "wall of fire" around it and in its midst. This is quite obviously symbolic of the Spirit of God and of divine protection, among other things. Since fire is also one of the symbols of the divine law (Deut. 33:2), the wall also relates to Ezra's reading of the law prior to the keeping of Tabernacles.
According to Deuteronomy 31:10 and 11, the law was to be read every seventh year in the year of release--that is, the land-rest year--at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. We know from 2 Chronicles 36:21 that the people had never kept a true land rest or their Jubilees from the days of Joshua to the Babylonian captivity. They DID begin to keep the land-rest years after returning from Babylon in 534 B.C., for in subsequent history we read of three land rests. The first is recorded in 1 Maccabees 6:53, which occurred in 163-162 B.C. The second is recorded in Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XV, i, 2. This sabbath occurred when Herod the Great successfully besieged Jerusalem in 37-36 B.C. and overthrew Antigonus. He was still reigning when Jesus was born and is the Herod who killed the children of Bethlehem. The third rest year was from 69-70 A.D. during which year the temple was destroyed by the Romans.
The value in knowing the dates of these rest years is that we can count the years back to when they started the sabbatical calendar. It goes back to 534 B.C., the year that the remnant left Babylon and returned to the land of Judah. Even so, the people still did not seem to know the law well enough to know that it was to be read every seventh year at Tabernacles. Even though the people knew enough of the law to keep Tabernacles in the first year of their release from Babylon, it took 89 more years for them to really grasp the divine law.
This prophetic pattern tells us that Christians today must hear the law, understand it, and also respond to it, before the fulfillment of Tabernacles can find its real fulfillment. We see this pattern by reading further in Nehemiah 8:
3 And he read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law. . . 8 And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
The law seems to have been relatively unknown prior to Ezra's reading of it. While in Babylon, the people had learned the ways and laws of their pagan hosts. Those who did know some of the law apparently did not really understand it. So Ezra explained it as he read it. Even today, the reason many Christians seldom read the divine law is because they have been told how oppressive it is. It is oppressive to the rebellious heart and to the unenlightened mind. But once we begin to understand it, we will rejoice over it even as the people in Ezra's day rejoiced.
9 Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved." 12 And all the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.
The reading of the law (beginning on the Feast of Trumpets) was to prepare the hearts of the people for repentance and revival on the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the month. The revival began immediately on the Feast of Trumpets at the reading of the law. In this sense, the trumpet represents the preaching of the Word, particularly the divine law. One of the main purposes of the law is to give us a knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20; 7:7). The law is the standard that defines sin and righteousness (1 John 3:4). Though it cannot justify any sinner, it does provide the basis by which men are convicted as sinners, for "where there is no law, neither is there violation" (Romans 4:15).
Repentance, then, of necessity involves the law, for no man can repent except he receives the revelation of his sin through the understanding of the law.
On the second day of the reading of the law, Ezra finally came to the place where Moses spoke of the Feast of Tabernacles. Only then did the people discover that they were not keeping this feast correctly:
13 Then on the second day the heads of fathers' households of all the people, the priests, and the Levites were gathered to Ezra the scribe that they might gain insight into the words of the law. 14 And they found written in the law how the LORD had commanded through Moses that the sons of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. 15 So they proclaimed and circulated a proclamation in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the hills, and bring olive branches, and wild olive branches, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of other leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written." 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate, and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 And the entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day. And there was great rejoicing.
Up to now we have shown that the people in Solomon's day kept the Feast of Tabernacles at the dedication of the first temple. We also saw how the people began to keep the Feast of Tabernacles as soon as they left Babylon. However, they had not done so with any real understanding of the law. Hence, they had kept Tabernacles imperfectly ever since the days of Joshua. Think about it. It was not until Ezra read the law in 445 B.C. that the people finally observed the Feast of Tabernacles in the biblically prescribed manner.
The 490-Year Link with the Apostle Paul
Daniel 9:24 speaks of a 70-week period of time leading to the work of the Messiah in the context of the old Jerusalem. This is not 70 weeks in the sense of seven-day weeks, but rather, weeks of years--that is, sabbath rest years. Seventy rest years is a period of 490 years, which our book, Secrets of Time shows to be dated 458 B.C. to 33 A.D. Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks extended from the Edict of Artaxerxes in 458 B.C. to the death of Jesus on the cross in 33 A.D. For those who disagree with this view, we simply refer them to the historical and biblical evidence in Secrets of Time, pp. 107-110.
There is another 490-year period as well. If we begin with Ezra's revival in 445 B.C., when the people began to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in the lawful manner, precisely 490 years later brings us to 46 A.D., the year that the Apostle Paul began his ministry in Acts 11:27-30. Prophets had come from Jerusalem with the revelation of a coming famine, which began in the fourth Consulship of the Roman Emperor Claudius (47 A.D.). The prophets came in 46 A.D. prior to the onset of the famine, and this was at the beginning of the 14th year (Gal. 2:1) since Paul's conversion on the Damascus road in late 33 A.D.
Paul himself was a prophetic picture of the transition from Pentecost to Tabernacles. His Hebrew name was Saul, but his Roman name was Paul. When he was known as Saul, he acted much like the Old Testament's King Saul, who persecuted David. King Saul, who was crowned king on the day of wheat harvest, or Pentecost (1 Sam. 12:17), was a prophetic pattern of the Church under the Pentecostal anointing. Saul's authority was legitimate and God-ordained, but he did not have an enduring dynasty.
On the other hand, David, who was crowned on a Jubilee, became a pattern of the overcomers and of the Church under the anointing of the Feast of Tabernacles.
So the Apostle Paul, while he was still known as Saul, persecuted the Church, even as King Saul had persecuted David. However, the New Testament Saul was converted, and his name was ultimately changed to Paul (Acts 13:9). In this we see instruction as to the manner in which those in the Pentecostal Age may ascend into a higher realm of anointing and understanding. For further study on this and other Old Testament patterns of Pentecost and Tabernacles, we refer our readers to our two booklets, The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost and The Barley Overcomers.
The 70-week pattern leading to Jesus' Passover work began with the Edict of Artaxerxes, who told Ezra to go to Jerusalem and make sacrifices there (Ezra 7:7). It was a sacrificial work that culminated with the Final Sacrifice on the cross.
The second 70-week pattern began with the establishment of Tabernacles in 445 B.C. and culminated with Paul's ministry in 46 A.D.. Paul is a type of overcomer who is able to make the transition from Saul (Pentecost) to Paul (Tabernacles). These events, then, foreshadow the second work of Christ under the anointing of Tabernacles. We will later show that this is primarily a preaching work that will bring all the kingdoms of this world under the feet of Jesus Christ.
Without expounding upon this, we may at least point out that the 40th Jubilee of the Church came in 1993 A.D. This is also 4 x 490 years from 33 A.D.
Thus also, the 40th Jubilee (4 x 490 years) from 46 A.D. would come in the year 2006 A.D. Whatever this may suggest is too early to know at this writing. However, it seems to suggest the beginning of a new type of ministry, comparable to Paul's, and yet greater, because Paul's ministry was a Tabernacles pattern of what should later come.
Waving the Palm Branches at Tabernacles
Nehemiah 8 tells us that the people had not kept the Feast of Tabernacles by dwelling in booths since the days of Joshua. Another part of this feast seems to have been ignored until this time. It was the practice of waving the fruit and palm branches. It seems to have begun with Ezra in 445 B.C., but it was universally practiced by the time of Christ. The law of Moses tells us in Leviticus 23:40,
40 Now on the first day you shall take [Heb. lawkakh, "to take or carry"] for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice [Heb. samach, "to rejoice"] before the LORD your God for seven days.
Palms and willow branches were specified in the law in God's instructions in keeping the Feast of Booths. However, these particular branches were not necessarily used in Ezra's revival in the construction of the booths. Nehemiah 8:15 says in the NASB,
15 So they proclaimed and circulated a proclamation in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the hills, and bring olive branches, and wild olive branches, myrtle branches, palm [shemen, "oil"] branches, and branches of other leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written."
The NASB translates the Hebrew word, shemen, as "palm" in the verse above. However, the Hebrew word for palm is tamar, not shemen. The word, shemen, literally means "oil," which may be a reference to the large amount of sap found in evergreen trees. For this reason the King James Version renders it "pine." This seems to be a better rendering than the NASB rendering. It is not likely that the Hebrew text would use shemen if they meant palm trees.
The wording in both of the above passages shows us that the precise trees to be used in the construction of the booths was not the important issue. The olive and pine trees (shemen) were not even mentioned in the law, and yet they used them in Ezra's day.
It is perhaps more significant that these branches were also used to wave before the Lord in their time of rejoicing. The law quoted above (Lev. 23:40) literally says to CARRY these branches "TO REJOICE before the Lord your God for seven days." For this reason, the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, translated a few centuries before Christ, also renders this "to rejoice."
It is clear, then, that the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles was to include bringing branches of trees--even with fruit still on the branches--to wave when worshiping God. Josephus, the great Judean historian of the first century, comments on the customs of Tabernacles in Antiquities of the Jews, III, x, 4, saying,
"Upon the fifteenth day of the same month, when the season of the year is changing for winter, the law enjoins us to pitch tabernacles in every one of our houses . . . and keep a festival for eight days, and offer burnt-offerings, and sacrifice thank-offerings, that we should then CARRY IN OUR HANDS a branch of myrtle, and willow, and a bough of the palm-tree with the addition of the pome citron."
Josephus also records that during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B.C.) the people pelted him with citrons that they were carrying to the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. We read of this in Antiquities of the Jews, XIII, xiii, 5,
"As to Alexander, his own people were seditious against him; for at a festival which was then celebrated, when he stood upon the altar, and was going to sacrifice, the nation rose upon him and pelted him with citrons, which they then had in their hands because the law of the Jews required that at the feast of tabernacles every one should have branches of palm-tree and citron-tree; which thing we have elsewhere related."
In Jesus' day there was always controversy between the Pharisees and the Sadducees regarding biblical interpretation. Regarding the laws of Tabernacles, this controversy is mentioned in Alfred Edersheim's book, The Temple, page 273,
"As usual, we are met at the outset by a controversy between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. . . . The Sadducees understood (as do the modern Karaite Jews) to refer to the materials whence the booths were to be constructed, while the Pharisees applied it to what the worshippers were to carry in their hands. The latter interpretation is, in all likelihood, the correct one; it seems borne out by the account of the festival at the time of Nehemiah, when the booths were constructed of branches of other trees than those mentioned in Leviticus xxiii; and it was universally adopted in practice at the time of Christ."
The waving of these branches (and citrus fruit) was done by singing and praising God, particularly in singing such psalms as Psalm 118:25-27,
25 O LORD, do save ["Hosanna"], we beseech Thee; O LORD, we beseech Thee, do send prosperity! 26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; we have blessed you from the house of the LORD. 27 The LORD is God, and He has given us light; bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. 28 Thou art my God, and I give thanks to Thee; Thou art my God, I extol Thee.
Hosanna is from the Hebrew word yasha, the root of Yeshua, or Jesus. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey just prior to the Passover when He was crucified, the people welcomed Him as the Messiah with these words, waving palm branches. Although this was primarily a psalm sung at the Feast of Tabernacles, the people were unknowingly prophesying of the Messiah's second coming. They did not realize that verse 27 was about to be fulfilled, in that the priests were soon going to "bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar." That is, the Messiah would be the sacrificial Lamb that would take away the sin of the world.
Nonetheless, the book of Revelation gives us the vision of the final outcome of this prophecy, for we read in Revelation 7:9 and 10,
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation [Heb. yeshua, or Jesus] to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
The ultimate fulfillment of this vision is when the multitude of Abraham's seed, that cannot be measured or numbered, observe the Feast of Tabernacles. Abraham was to be the father of many nations, both physically and spiritually. Thus, the Abrahamic promise and blessing finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Feast of Tabernacles. The fruit left on some of the branches depicts offspring, the "fruit of the womb" that comes through this feast.
The fact that Tabernacles finds its culmination on the eighth day shows that it is meant to depict a cycle from birth to circumcision, which occurred on the eighth day under the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant, the Feast of Tabernacles depicts the same type of cycle, showing that the birth of the Manchild company will occur on the first day of Tabernacles, and the circumcision of the heart occurs on the eighth day.
Jesus Observes Tabernacles
The Apostle John is the only New Testament writer to tell us how Jesus observed the Feast of Tabernacles. John 7 says,
2 Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand. 3 His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." 5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him.
This is a prophetic pattern of the second coming of Christ at the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles. It shows that Jesus is coming in the midst of this feast (7:14), and that the Holy Spirit will be poured out on the eighth day (7:37-39). It also shows that His "brothers" wanted Him to show Himself openly in order to advertise Himself. They seem to have believed that if He would make a show of His powers and abilities to heal, then everyone would proclaim Him to be King. Perhaps they suggested that He ride into Jerusalem on a white horse with an entourage of dancing girls and cheering disciples. He could throw off the yoke of Rome, and for that matter, the yoke of the current priesthood. It would be a great career move.
But John says that they did not believe in Him. It is plain that, at the time, they would have disagreed with John's assessment of their faith. From their perspective, they wanted an open show because they DID believe in Him. They believed in His ability to heal and raise the dead. They believed that He could fulfill the people's expectations of the Messiah, if only He had some expert marketers to advise Him. Yet by the time John wrote his gospel in later years, he probably shook his head, wondering how they could have been so silly. He knew the truth of the matter by this time. At the time, they disagreed with Jesus' marketing techniques. They did not really believe that He was doing what His Father was telling Him to do.
6 Jesus therefore said to them, "My time is not yet at hand, but your time is always opportune. 7 The world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. 8 Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come." 9 And having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee. 10 But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as it were, in secret.
Jesus said that it was not yet His time to be manifested openly. It was not His time to be proclaimed King and to take His rightful position as Heir of all things. The dominion mandate had been given to Adam in Genesis 1:28, and this right to have dominion over the earth had been passed down to Seth, Methuselah, Noah, Shem, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, and finally to Jesus. Jesus was the rightful King of the earth, but He was to be proclaimed openly at an appointed time.
The first time Jesus allowed Himself to be proclaimed openly was on "Palm Sunday" a few days before He was crucified. Though it was the Passover season, the people acted as though it were the Feast of Tabernacles, waving palm branches and singing Psalm 118:25 and 26. If the people had known the appointed times, they would have understood that His time of ruling the earth would come not at Passover, but at the Feast of Tabernacles. Even so, the people set a prophetic pattern on Palm Sunday that will manifest later at the appointed time.
In John 7:7 Jesus made a rather odd statement that "the world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil." What does this statement have to do with the situation at hand? It seems to be a prophetic statement that as long as the world hates Jesus, they will not see Him openly manifested. It would seem from this that Jesus will indeed manifest Himself openly as King of Kings among all nations; however, men will not necessarily see Him until they have come to love Him.
In other words, all men must go through the stages of development in their Christian lives, as they come to know Him and love Him. These stages are represented by the three feast days of Israel, as well as in the three parts of the Tabernacle of Moses. In our Passover experience of justification, we come into the outer court of the Tabernacle of Moses. From there, we "see" Christ in a dim light through two veils. As we progress from the outer court to the Holy Place through the experience of Pentecost, we pass through another veil, and we "see" Christ in a greater light. But only when we penetrate that third veil by means of the Feast of Tabernacles do we come face to face with Jesus Christ in all His glory.
Biblical precedents indicate that when God comes in glory, He hides that glory by veils, because most men are not equipped to view Him in His full glory. The purpose of the three feasts is to prepare men's hearts to view His glory when He comes. It seems likely, then, that the second coming of Christ will not be an open manifestation of Himself to the whole world at the same time. Only the overcomers who enter into the experience of Tabernacles will see Him fully in His glory. The rest of the world will see Him only through veils until a later time when their eyes have become accustomed to His light. Most people, perhaps, will see Christ only through His body.
The glorified overcomers will veil that glory when they come to teach the world of God and His ways, as did Moses, who had to veil his face in order not to frighten the people. The glory of God is too much for the carnal man until he has had opportunity to grow in the knowledge of His glory. We will deal with this more fully in chapter nine.
Jesus did not openly go to Jerusalem for this Feast of Tabernacles in John 7. He went in secret, and He did not even go with His disciples. This seems like a very strange thing for Him to do. By sending the disciples ahead, He set the stage for a prophetic pattern of His second coming. He came to Jerusalem, not openly, but "in secret." Many were looking for His coming, but they did not know He was there, nor did they see Him:
11 The Jews therefore were seeking Him at the feast, and were saying, "Where is He?" 12 And there was much grumbling among the multitudes concerning Him; some were saying, "He is a good man"; others were saying, "No, on the contrary, He leads the multitude astray." 13 Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
Finally, then, Jesus made His appearance. He did not come specifically to the disciples, but suddenly appeared teaching in the temple.
The Midst of the Feast
14 But when it was now the midst of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach.
This prophetic pattern seems to indicate that Jesus will come in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles of some year. The manner of His coming will be "in secret" (Greek: kruptos, "hidden, concealed, secret"). Paul used this word in Romans 2:29, saying, "he is a [true] Jew who is one inwardly." He will manifest Himself in His temple TEACHING the Word to the people. In the old order God inhabited buildings of wood and stone, but today He has moved and taken residence in His people. Paul says that we are the temples of God now (1 Cor. 3:16). Therefore, what Jesus did in His first coming--by suddenly appearing in the temple made of wood and stone--is not what He will do the second time. This time He will appear, or manifest Himself, to the world in His people, His true temple. As we have stated earlier, the overcomers will see Him face to face, but the rest of the people will see Him through veils of flesh in lesser degrees of manifestation.
Malachi 3:1 says,
1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. 2 "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. 3 "And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. 4 "Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years.
Malachi tells us some details of His appearance. He will come like "a smelter and purifier of silver" (3:3) in order that the true priesthood may be able to offer to God an acceptable sacrifice. This is written in Old Testament terms, of course, but we must see it in a New Testament light. The priesthood that God is now establishing is no longer Levitical, but is of the Melchisedec Order, of which Jesus is the High Priest (Heb. 6:20). Malachi wrote in his first chapter that the priests of his day were offering blind and lame sacrifices on the altar, and he asked the people if God was pleased with this (Mal. 1:8, 9). And so in chapter three, Malachi prophesies that God was going to purify and cleanse the priesthood, so that they might offer to God an acceptable offering.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that we are to present ourselves to God as "living sacrifices" that are acceptable to Him. The problem is that Isaiah 42:18 asks, "Who is blind but My servant?" This is confirmed in many places in Isaiah's writings. Isaiah 44:18 even tells us that God blinded their eyes. God's servants are also lame in their Christian walk, even as God caused Jacob to be lame after he wrestled with the angel (Gen. 32:32).
This is the nature of the Christian while he is limited by the revelation of Passover and Pentecost. The veils still blind us to the true nature of God in His glory. We are still limited in our ability to walk the Christian life, because, though we have been imputed righteous, we are not yet actually righteous.
In other words, we are not yet acceptable offerings to God in the fullest sense of the word. The Feast of Tabernacles is a time when all of this will change, for He will come to His temple--His body, His priesthood--to purify them, so that they may truly offer up an acceptable offering. The divine law in Leviticus 2:11 states that no offering can be mixed with leaven, and yet the Pentecostal offering was two loaves of bread baked with leaven (Lev. 23:17). This prophesies to us that as long as we remain in Pentecost, we are an unacceptable offering to God in the ultimate sense. God must purify us through the Feast of Tabernacles in order that we might come fully into the divine presence with no veils between us.
The Eighth Day of Tabernacles
Jesus prophesied on the eighth day of Tabernacles of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in John 7:37-39:
37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'" 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
In those days it was customary for the priest at the temple to pour out a drink offering of water each morning for seven days during the Feast of Tabernacles. This would be poured out of a silver pitcher. They did not do this on the morning of the eighth day. So when Jesus cried out for men to come to Him for drink, it signified a different kind of water that would be poured out on the eighth day of Tabernacles.
Pouring out the water at the Feast of Tabernacles was meant to depict the Spirit of God being poured out, as prophesied by Joel 2:23 and 28. The people, however, viewed this in a more carnal fashion, thinking that this ceremony merely prayed for rain, which generally began to fall around the time of Tabernacles. This was, indeed, important to the planting of crops in that time of the year. But they often missed its real significance.
When Jesus proclaimed with a loud voice that men were to come to Him for drink, and that this would result in a river of living water flowing from their innermost beings, He was actually referring to Isaiah 12:2, 3, which says,
2 Behold, God is my salvation [Heb. Yeshua], I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD [Heb. Yah Yahweh] is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation [Yeshua]." 3 Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation [Yeshua].
Yeshua, or Joshua, was Jesus' Hebrew name. So Isaiah was actually prophesying that Yahweh has become my Yeshua. That is, Jesus Christ (Yeshua) was known as Yahweh in the Old Testament before His incarnation in the earth. Further, Isaiah prophesies that we would "joyously draw water from the springs of Yeshua." Thus, when Jesus shouted to the people on the eighth day of Tabernacles that all who were thirsty were to come to HIM for drink, He was referring to Isaiah 12:3.
As we have already seen, Solomon's temple was glorified on the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles. That event prophesied of the glorification of a new temple made of living stones, of which Pentecost was only a downpayment. The fact that Jesus prophesied of the outpouring of the Spirit on the last great day of the Feast of Tabernacles shows that this is the appointed time for the fullness of the Spirit yet to come.
Prophetic Temple Ceremonies at Tabernacles
On each of the seven days of Tabernacles, the priests formed a procession and walked around the altar, singing Psalm 118:25, "O then, now, work salvation, Yahweh! O Yahweh, give prosperity." On the last day of the feast, that is, the seventh day, the priests walked around the altar seven times. Alfred Edersheim says in The Temple, page 280,
"But on the seventh [day] . . . they made the circuit of the altar seven times, remembering how the walls of Jericho had fallen in similar circumstances, and anticipating how, by the direct interposition of God, the walls of heathendom would fall before Jehovah, and the land lie open for His people to go in and possess it."
That day was also called the "Day of Willows" or the "Day of Beating the Branches," as Edersheim tells us, "because all the leaves were shaken off the willow boughs, and the palm branches beaten in pieces by the side of the altar." The imagery here portrays the destruction of Jericho and the judgment of nations ("trees"), by which He brings all nations into subjection to Christ.
The circuit around the altar portrayed the battle of Jericho, and the beating of the tree branches signified the conquest of Jericho--and by extension, all nations, for Jericho was a type and shadow of the nations in general. This prophesied the day when all nations would be conquered, and Christ would rule all nations as His inheritance. This conquest is associated particularly with the Feast of Tabernacles, showing that the coming of Christ and the establishment of divine government will be the fulfillment of this feast.
This will begin, of course, with the overcomers, whose corruptible bodies (Jericho) and mortal natures will be "conquered" by Jesus Christ and fully ruled by divine law. These are the firstfruits of the creation, for whose manifestation all creation groans. Even as Jericho was the firstfruits of Canaan in its conquest, so also is the conquest of the overcomer body the firstfruits of the world.
The priests had another ceremony at the time of the evening sacrifice during the seven days of Tabernacles. It was called the illumination of the temple. At the close of the day, after the sacrifices and drink offerings had been poured out, the worshipers came down from the Court of Israel to the Court of the Women, where four large golden lampstands had been set up, each having four golden bowls. Four young priests carrying pitchers of oil then filled the bowls of the lampstands.
This ceremony was intended to portray the glory of God in Jerusalem. The glory of God had never come to that temple, of course, so in that sense, the illumination of the temple must have seemed like a poor substitute to those who really understood this. Even so, it did prophesy of the New Jerusalem and its New Temple made of living stones. Jesus explained the significance of this practice the next day as He taught the people, for we read in John 8:12,
12 Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."
Even as the true water of life was to be drawn from Jesus, as He proclaimed on the last great day of the feast, so also must all come to Jesus to receive the true light of truth. The light of life comes when the fullness of the Spirit comes down to indwell the temple of our bodies. The illumination of the temple, then, prophesies of the glory and light of God filling His people at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Eight Signs in the Gospel of John
After Jesus turned the water into wine, John 2:11 says,
11 This beginning of His signs [Greek: semeion, "sign, mark, or token"] Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
There are, in fact, eight signs in the book of John. They are as follows:
- Turning water into wine (John 2:1-10).
- The Nobleman healed (John 4:46-54).
- The Bethesda healing (John 5:1-13).
- Feeding the 5,000 (John 6:1-13).
- Walking on the water (John 6:16-25).
- The blind man healed (John 9:1-7).
- The raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45).
- Catching the 153 large fish (John 21:3-12).
It is not possible to give a complete study of these signs in this book, although these signs correlate with the Feast of Tabernacles. In John 2:11, quoted above, the purpose of the signs were to manifest His glory in the earth. The first seven signs were done before His death and resurrection; the final sign was done after His resurrection. After each of the signs, Jesus gave teaching and commentary that revealed the meaning of each sign. John also records other stories after each of the signs. These illustrate the preceding sign.
The middle signs--that is, the fourth and fifth signs--are prophetic of the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles. First, Jesus fed the 5,000 with five barley loaves and two fish at the time of Passover (John 6:4). As a result, the people wanted to make Him a king (John 6:15). Later, in John 7 at the Feast of Tabernacles, the people wanted to kill Him (7:19). It seems that they never could figure out when to do what. They should have been offering Him up as the Sacrifice to God at Passover, and they should have wanted to crown Him king at Tabernacles.
After feeding the multitude, Jesus escaped to a mountain to pray, sending His disciples ahead of Him across the Sea of Galilee. They found themselves in the middle of a contrary wind storm. In the middle of the lake, Jesus came to them, walking on the water. In Matthew's account of the same story, we read that Peter went out to meet Jesus (Matt. 14:39-42). Jesus and Peter then returned to the boat, and suddenly, they found themselves at Capernaum (John 6:21 and 24).
This story prophesies of the second coming of Christ. The story begins with the Passover work of Christ, where He feeds the multitude with His teachings, while they want to make Him a king. They did not know that His first coming was supposed to be a death work. So Jesus ascended to a high mountain to pray. This prophesied of His ascension to heaven, where He makes intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Meanwhile, He has sent out His disciples into the world, knowing that they would face tribulation during His absence. The storm that the disciples encountered signifies tribulation.
Then Jesus came to them. John says they had rowed twenty or thirty furlongs (John 6:19), which was about the middle of the lake. Peter went out to meet Him. He was here acting out the part of the overcomers who will "meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4:17). Take note that NOT ALL of the disciples went out to meet Him, even though they were all believers. Only Peter set foot out of the boat. He represents the overcomers. Peter, of course, began to look at the wind and waves and began to sink, but Jesus caught him. This shows that the overcomers are probably no more perfect than the other believers, or disciples, but they do have something within them that the others do not have. Other Bible passages give more details, but this is outside the scope of the present story.
Finally, as soon as Jesus stepped into the boat with the disciples, the wind ceased (Matt. 14:32), and the boat was miraculously transported to the other side of the lake to the town of Capernaum (John 6:21, 24). We will have more to say of this later, but this is the "catching away" prophesied in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. They found themselves at the town of Capernaum, which is a compound Hebrew name. The roots of this name are kippur and nacham. Kippur means "covering," while nacham means "comforter." In other words, they came to the place of the fullness of the Spirit, the full covering of the Comforter, that is, the Holy Spirit.
This prophesies in some way about the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles. In some manner that is not yet clear, it appears that Jesus will come in the midst of the feast, and the overcomers will be "caught away" to the eighth day of Tabernacles, which is their Capernaum. Meanwhile, the other people who had been fed at the Passover sign, came looking for Him, still desiring to be fed, still focused upon the Passover work of Christ (John 6:22-26). They had no knowledge or understanding of the Tabernacles work. They also did not know where He went or when He came to Capernaum (John 6:25).
John then records Jesus' teachings that explained the two signs. First Jesus explained that He was the true bread from heaven (John 6:32). When the 5,000 had been fed, they gathered of the leftovers twelve baskets full. Jesus equates this to the resurrection of the dead, saying in John 6:39 and 40,
39 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.
Jesus repeats this statement two more times in John 6:44 and 54. The purpose of the manna from heaven (and the feeding of the 5,000) is found in John 6:45,
45 It is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught of God." Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
The rest of John 6 is commentary on the feeding of the 5,000. Then in John 7 we find the prophetic story of Jesus as He kept the Feast of Tabernacles. This illustrates and explains the meaning of the fifth sign in John, where Jesus came to the disciples in the midst of the lake.
In the fifth sign, Jesus sent His disciples ahead to Jerusalem. In John 7 Jesus sent His disciples ahead to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles.
In the fifth sign, the people did not know where Jesus was. In John 7 the people again did not know where Jesus was.
In the fifth sign, Jesus came to the disciples in the midst of the lake. In John 7 Jesus came to the temple in the midst of the Feast of Tabernacles.
In the fifth sign, Jesus and the disciples were caught away to Capernaum, the "covering of the Comforter." In John 7 Jesus prophesied on the eighth day of the feast about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
All of these things appear to show us the timing of Jesus' second coming insofar as the time of year is concerned. Of course, these accounts say nothing about which year He might come. The manner of His coming is no doubt revealed in these stories as well, but we recognize that these stories are written as parables and illustrations, allowing much room for discussion over different viewpoints. We ourselves have a particular view as well, but we are not inclined to think that we are infallible in our opinions. Nonetheless, even those who may disagree with our conclusions will no doubt benefit from the insights displayed in this book.