God’s Feast of Thanksgiving

The blueprint for our November holiday — and for a glorious future event



Yes, I know it’s not November. No, I haven’t lost my sense of time (or humor, for that matter). There are no ‘Black Friday’ sales this week. Santa Claus is not around the corner.

But it is time for God’s appointed feast of thanksgiving. It’s a Biblical holiday that may very well have been the inspiration behind the Pilgrims’ harvest festival of 1621. And it starts this very week — beginning Monday, September 20 at sundown.

It’s the Feast of Tabernacles — or ‘Sukkot’ in Hebrew. It is at once a celebration of nature (Leviticus 23:40), harvest (Exodus 23:16), and God’s provision (Leviticus 23:43).

The festive wooden/metal tents (or ‘booths,’ or ‘tabernacles’) that dot the Israeli landscape during this Feast capture its essence (described below in Leviticus 23:40–43 — NIV):

Interesting, eh? The Israelites were commanded to celebrate the goodness of God and live in ‘tents.’ Only in the wisdom of God! Whereas our idea of celebrating harvest is to revel in our abundance (a la the rich fool described in Luke 12:16–19), God commanded the Israelites to dwell in temporary (perhaps even makeshift) ‘booths.’ Why? So they could remember Who it was Who gave them the harvest — Who brought them out of poverty into plenty — Who delivered them from bondage into freedom!

You mean we can do this without Black Friday or football? Gimme a break!

But There’s More

Many of us are well familiar with this passionate proclamation of our Messiah. But notice the setting in which he made it: “On the last and greatest day of the festival…”

What was ‘the festival’ this verse referred to? Yep, you guessed it: The Feast of Tabernacles.

In Jesus’ day, the last day of this glorious Feast was marked by a water-pouring ceremony. Priests would march from the Pool of Siloam into the Temple carrying a golden vessel of water. Once inside the Temple, they would pour the water so that it flowed all over the altar. In so doing, they were entreating God for rain — but doing so with rejoicing. Here’s how the Talmud describes it:

Indeed, they were enacting Isaiah 12:3:

They were also calling forth the promise of Holy Spirit (given through the same prophet Isaiah:

Jesus, being the observant Jew that He was, not only knew the above promises but was also right there to celebrate the Feast with the rest of Israel. So the timing of His great proclamation was no coincidence. (Nothing about our Savior’s life was a coincidence.) As the water was being poured out to call upon God to fulfill these promises, He shouted to everyone that their fulfillment was right in front of their eyes.

The Harvest from the Nations

There’s also evidence that this feast contained an element of prophetic intercession for the nations. You see, the Israelites were commanded to sacrifice 70 bulls — 13 on the first day, 12 on the second, and so on. What does that have to do with the nations? Simply this: the number 70 corresponds with the number of nations descended from Noah’s sons (see Genesis 10).

Could it be that at this feast, Israel was fulfilling her role as a priestly nation to the ‘goyim’ (the Gentile nations)?

Now let’s fast-forward to the not-so-distant future. When Messiah Jesus returns, what is the one feast Scripture says will be mandatory for all nations? Why of course: the Feast of Tabernacles! See it for yourself in Zechariah 14:16–19.

Some believers aren’t waiting for the Millennium to fulfill this command. Every year during the Feast, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) sponsors the Jerusalem March. Tens of thousands of Christians from around the world, decked out in their native regalia and carrying their flags, march through the city streets to proclaim their love for Israel and her God. It is such a site to behold that even secular Israelis love watching it! (They’re not used to seeing Gentiles express love for Israel and for them!)

Again, who needs football and Black Friday when you can celebrate like this?

The Forerunner

In all seriousness, this Feast is the granddaddy of all harvest festivals. It indeed was a forerunner to our Thanksgiving holiday.

Most importantly, it is a prophetic rehearsal of Messiah’s coming Kingdom.



Free-lance writer and fellow sojourner with a desire to communicate hope, convey truth as I see it, and encourage dialogue on important issues.

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Gary David Flamberg

Free-lance writer and fellow sojourner with a desire to communicate hope, convey truth as I see it, and encourage dialogue on important issues.