Tabernacles 2017 and Jesus

Jewish Feasts

To help the Israelites remember His goodness, God gave them three feasts to celebrate every year; Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. As I write this, Jews all over the world are celebrating Tabernacles, but we Christians should pay attention to it too because it also speaks truth to us.

Many years ago, our local church invited a visiting British Pentecostal to preach at a Sunday service. He asked for two lecterns to be set up about three meters apart, and then proceeded to put his bible on the one and his notes on the other. He spent his whole thirty minutes or so prowling between the two and shouted out “Glory!” as he approached the one and “Hallelujah!” as he neared the other. The sad thing is that I remember his antics so vividly, but I cannot tell you the subject matter of his sermon. It would be a lot sadder if we acknowledge Tabernacles as an ancient biblical festival, but fail to receive the message it conveys to our generation.

The feast is a drama in three parts. Rosh Hashana, the blowing of trumpets, took place on the 22nd of September 2017, followed by Yom Kipor, the Great Day of Atonement, on Sunday 1st October. Both of these significant days have great meaning for Jews and Christians alike, but I want to focus on the third part of the drama, Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles that starts on the 5th and ends on the 12th of October.

To Jews, Sukkot is a remembrance of how their ancestors lived in tents in the wilderness, and how Almighty God was present to protect, guide and sustain them. To Christians, the Feast of Tabernacles is a reminder of how God ‘tabernacled’ among His people as Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is also a recognition that through the Holy Spirit He is with us now in the tabernacle of His church, and a reminder that He is coming again soon to dwell permanently with His children. The appropriate response to this is “Glory hallelujah!”

There are many facets of wonderful truth embedded in the Feast of Tabernacles, but in this article, I want to develop just one aspect, which Haggai 2:2-9 introduces.

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”
Significantly, Haggai uttered this prophecy on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the year 520 BC.

The ‘former house’ was Solomon’s temple, built 438 years earlier and dedicated on the last day of Tabernacles 958 BC. This temple was a magnificent structure adorned with silver and gold, but its true glory was something much more than gold. 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 records what happened when the temple was dedicated to God;

‘When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” ‘
Its true glory was the presence of Almighty God.

Now, in Haggai’s day, Zerrubabel was restoring the temple and the prophet was trying to encourage the people because it was obvious to all that this restored temple was but a shadow of its former grandeur. But, in reality, the glory of the Lord had departed from Solomon’s temple just 46 years after it was dedicated and this restored temple never did ‘contain’ the glory of the Lord. History records that successive nations plundered this temple, and that its final shame came in 167 BC when Antiochus Ephinies slaughtered a pig on the altar and erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies. ‘Ephinies’ means ‘the god who appears to reveal himself’ – what blasphemous irony!

In 20 BC Herod the Great rebuilt the temple, but still it did not manifest God’s glory… until between 5 BC and 27AD when The Glory returned to it three times. More than 500 years after Haggai the prophecy he uttered came true and the glory of Herod’s temple indeed surpassed that of Solomon’s temple. In 5 BC Jesus was brought as a baby to this temple to be dedicated– glory! Twelve years later, He came again to the temple to teach the teachers of Israel – glory! Then, when he was 33 years of age Jesus came again to this temple to fulfil all righteousness and to bring to an end the sacrificial system – glory! Antiochus called himself ‘the appearance of God’ and slaughtered a pig. Jesus, the true revelation of God, offered himself for slaughter, a lamb without blemish – Hallelujah!

In Jesus’ day, they celebrated the feast of Tabernacles for seven days and regarded the 8th day as a special Sabbath marking the first day of a new period of grace and mercy. On this ‘last and greatest’ day, a priest went down to the pool of Siloam, filled a golden pitcher with water and then led the procession back to the Temple. They then walked around the Great Altar of Sacrifice 7 times singing and joyfully shouting out “Hosanna” (Save us now). The climax of the ceremony came when the priest raised the golden pitcher and poured the water onto the Altar. As he did this, the people recited Isaiah 12:3 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

At that very moment, Jesus cried out in a loud voice; “If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!” Perhaps the priests knew the whole passage of Isaiah from which they were chanting, but Jesus certainly knew that it ended with ‘Shout aloud and sing for joy people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you!’ To those with ears to hear Jesus was saying “I am the fulfilment of that scripture; I, the Holy One of Israel, am among you.”

The trumpets of Rosh Hashana announce the coming of the King of Kings, Yom Kipor signifies the great act of atonement of The Saviour on our behalf, and Sukkot reminds us that Jesus was, is, and will be with us. Glory Hallelujah!





Hearing God

Coming Next: How to Hear God

Hearing God

This is the time of year when most of us think and pray a lot about the year that lies ahead.

As disciples of the Lord Jesus:

  • Do we just make our plans and trust that they are acceptable to the Father?
  • Do we expect Him to respond to us when we ask Him?
  • How do we expect Him to ‘speak’?

Dallas Willard wrote in his book ‘Hearing God’ that “many Christians don’t ‘hear’ God yet look at all the Hymns and songs that speak of this… not hearing God is a paradox.” He’s got a point don’t you think?

Consider these few biblical examples among many:

  • 1 Samuel 3:4 ‘Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
  • Acts 10:19-20 ‘While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
  • Acts 16:7 ‘When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.’
  • Acts 18:9 ‘One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision…’

So next week I am going to write on this very topic, based on the truths contained in Psalm 25.

May I invite you to read this Psalm, and as you do consider the questions posed above.
We at Truth is The Word hope that 2017 has started well for you, but if it hasn’t that you will be very conscious of the Spirit of Jesus being with you (Philippians 1:19).

Looking into 2017

The end of another year is upon us and if you are anything like me you are finding yourselves looking back and then trying to look forward.

“How did I do this year Lord?” we murmur as we consider the triumphs, failures, joys, and sorrows of a year that can never be relived. “Well, we made it through 2016 Lord, now what awaits us in the year to come?” But He doesn’t often answer that prayer does He? Perhaps it is just as well that we don’t know what lies ahead, for Jesus did say; “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

hope or despairFor us here in South Africa, 2016 has been a troubled year on a number of levels, but I guess those living in Europe or the United States would say the same. The economy is not likely to improve much in the year ahead and the political situation will no doubt remain tense. Americans will have to adjust to a new, and very different President; the British will have to come to terms with Brexit; Europeans will have to endure ongoing terrorism; and we in the RSA… well, we have the Robbing Hood and his merry men-in-power to deal with.

Here is the thing though:

do we believe that no matter what happens in 2017 we can make huge progress towards fulfilling our life’s goal?
No matter who we are, what resources we have or don’t have, or how healthy or stressed or challenged we are, we all have the same fundamental mission in life. We are called to know Jesus, to become as much like Him as we can in this lifetime, and to help others to do likewise. For those who don’t yet have an eternal relationship with Him, then changing THAT is the highest priority for 2017. For those who do know Jesus as saviour and Lord the mission in the year ahead is to know Him better and more deeply and, by manifesting His resurrected life in and through us, to become more like Him. And this glorious quest is never undertaken in isolation, for as we live out the Christian life we try as best we can to help others to know Jesus and to become like Him.

2017Now tell me, can hardship, illness, or adversity stop this from happening? NO, to the contrary, challenges and tests provide a powerful means for knowing Jesus and becoming like Him. Paul expressed something of this idea when he wrote; ‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead’ (Philippians 3:10-11). Prosperity can be a means of achieving our ‘growth’ goal, but so can poverty; Health can be a means, but so can sickness. Peace can be a sought after means, but conflict can provide a challenge that accelerates our growth in Christ Jesus.

‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:37-39).

I can’t get back one second of the year that has gone, but I can redeem the time that lies ahead IF I can comprehend God the Father’s purpose for, in, and through me, resolve to walk with the Lord Jesus through the days to come, and learn to depend on the guidance and sustaining power of the Holy Spirit.

I won’t end with, ‘May God be with you in the year to come’; I would rather affirm the truth that God IS with you now and in the days that lie ahead.

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.