Zechariah 14, The Feast of Tabernacles and the Resurrection
In our study of Zechariah 14 and its impact on NT eschatology, there is one aspect of what Zechariah’s vision entailed that is so wonderful and yet, often ignored, and that is that Zechariah 14 describes the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles at the time of the kingdom, the Day of the Lord, and the establishment of the River of Life. What cannot be missed is that this is a depiction of the fulfillment of Israel’s festal calendar, her typological feast days.
The Feast of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Booths, was called the most joyous of all Jewish feasts. It memorialized the time of deliverance from bondage when Israel dwelt in tents and booths as they journeyed to their promised land. It celebrated the past of bondage and wandering, and the joy of present deliverance.
The Feast of Tabernacles was also the feast that celebrated the harvest. Passover was the time of the firstfruits of the barley; Pentecost was the time of the firstfruits of the wheat. (Johann Henrich Kurtz, Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids Baker, 1980)378. Succoth celebrated the full harvest.
Fairbairn says the feast of booths typified the time when all of God’s enemies would be finally defeated and the nations would celebrate salvation in the kingdom. (Patrick Fairbairn, The Typology of Scripture, Grand Rapids, Baker, 1975 reprint)399f. In other words, the Feast of Tabernacles foreshadowed the time of the resurrection when man had been fully delivered from sin and its consequences.
Edersheim concurred with Fairbairn about the typological significance of the Feast of Tabernacles. He said the Feast signified the time when, “in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all the people a feast of fat things…And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering spread over all the nations. He will swallow up death in victory.” (Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services As They Were at the Time of Jesus, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1972)269. Undeniably then the typological significance of the Feast of Tabernacles has been associated with the resurrection by the Jews and Christian scholars.
Feast of Tabernacles and the Fall of Jerusalem
What should not be missed is that in Zechariah 14 there is a direct, temporal connection between the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, the coming of the Lord with His saints, the establishment of the kingdom and the observation of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Twice in Zechariah 14 the writer speaks of worshippers, including the Gentiles, coming to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles after the coming of the Lord in judgment at the time of the fall of Jerusalem, verses 1-5.
Of course, this raises the issue of whether Zechariah was predicting the literal observance of the Feast of Tabernacles, or, whether he was expressing the coming fulfillment of the typological element of the Feast of Tabernacles in the language of the OT cultus, while the true meaning of the language was spiritual. In other words, the literal feast of Tabernacles would not be observed, but, the resurrection typified in that literal feast would be enjoyed after the Day of the Lord. All of this speaks eloquently of the fact that Israel’s feast days are absolutely foundational to understanding Biblical eschatology. This is demonstrated further by the fact that John, in Revelation, depicts the “observance” of the Feast of Tabernacles in the same context as Zechariah, the judgment of “Babylon” i.e. the city “where the Lord was slain” (11:8–>chapter 14). Be sure to read my book, Who Is This Babylon? for a discussion of John’s use of Zechariah and the Feast of Tabernacles. This is a great study!
The Messianic, typological import of the Feast of Tabernacles was resurrection life. Zechariah 14 speaks at length of the Feast of Tabernacles being celebrated after the coming of the Lord in AD 70. We must therefore understand this to be an illusion to the celebration of resurrection life. This directly associates resurrection life with the AD 70 coming of the Lord. And this is perfectly consistent with other OT texts that very clearly link resurrection life to the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, and their fulfillment at the time of the judgment of Israel. We will demonstrate this in our next installment, so stay tuned.
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