“Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast -- you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete,” [Deuteronomy 16:13-15]
“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD,” [Psalm 27:4-6]
“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes,” [Revelation 7:14-17]
“Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles,” [Zechariah 14:16]
Tomorrow is Labor Day, which has come to symbolize a great many things. Originally a holiday created by the U.S. government to “appease” angry labor parties in an era when the Industrial Revolution had reached its peak, it has come to represent a harvest festival of sorts. It is unofficially considered the last day of summer when families try to squeeze in one last vacation before school starts (did I say before? For many it is now after). It used to be considered the last day when it was considered fashionable to wear white. Some towns have Labor Day parades and speeches or patriotic gatherings while others just render it as a day of rest.
God actually instituted a set of “end of harvest” festivals that both conveyed rest and celebration. These are known as the Feast of Trumpets (called “Jewish New Year” on our contemporary calendar) and the Feast of Tabernacles. Tabernacles is a seven-day harvest festival celebrated at the “Great Harvest” or end-of-year harvest somewhere in the September-October season, depending on how it coincides with the lunar cycle. This was celebrated as a joyous holiday, happening after the “Day of Atonement, which was considered a more solemn and mournful occasion. The Feast of Tabernacles conveys the blessings and celebration that come from God’s love and provision after summer. Summer, in the Bible’s symbolic meaning, is the time of labor, trial or difficulty, but the harvest is a time of celebration and rejoicing. It coincides with the idea of the Israelites wandering in the desert before they eventually entered the promised land. As Israel wandered in the wilderness, they “tabernacled” next to God’s Tabernacle; God was with them and in their midst, but still separate.
David longed to tabernacle with God. He wanted to dwell in God’s tent; he wanted to be where God was. As all of faithful Israel did, David longed to be with God in one “house” rather than separated from Him because of sin.
To the Christian faithful, God says, keep working, remain faithful, because I will be your tabernacle, your shelter and your refuge. And at the end of days, we will all rejoice together when everything is complete.
Tabernacles conveys the idea of triumph over this world by remaining faithful during the “harvest,” the seeking and saving of the lost. To understand the sentiment of tabernacles, we need to have a missionary vision for the lost. How badly do we want the lost to be saved? Are we praying for them? The celebration of the harvest is at the very center of God’s heart. Do we care about what He cares about?
Harvest is an occasion to celebrate because the labor is completed. The celebration and joy of God’s Harvest is certain. Let us therefore labor for Him, and as you celebrate Labor Day tomorrow, remember the labor to which God has called every single one of us.
Love in Jesus,