Sukkot is to the other festivals what the Sabbath is to the other six days of the week. It foreshadows that great celebration of creation when the entire world will live in peace and brotherhood under the reign and rule of the righteous Messiah King. Just as the weekly Sabbath foreshadows the kingdom, Sukkot looks forward to that great age, a shadow of what is to come.
The word sukkot (סכת) means shelters, stables or huts. The Torah commands the Jewish people to annually build sukkot and live in them as a reminder of the forty years they lived in huts and booths, following God in the wilderness: “You shall live in sukkot for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in sukkot” (Leviticus 23:42). English Bibles sometimes translate sukkot as “tabernacles,” hence the common English name “Feast of Tabernacles.”
Sukkot brings a time of joy and celebration, a time to celebrate the harvest and revel in God’s goodness. We invite guests into our booth for a festive meal each night of Sukkot, including guests with auspicious names like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. Each night of Sukkot celebrates one of the aforementioned biblical personalities. Obviously, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David are unlikely to actually attend the meal since they are all dead, but the festival of Sukkot anticipates the Messianic Age when the righteous will be raised to life again and we will all sit at the table with Abraham in the kingdom of heaven.
When Messiah comes, He will bring in the final harvest of God’s kingdom and institute an age of peace and prosperity upon the earth. The prophets relate that day to the festival of Sukkot, a day when every man will sit beneath his own vine and fig tree. The LORD will spread a sukkah of glory over Jerusalem:
Then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a sukkah to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain. (Isaiah 4:5-6)
According to the prophets, the festival of Sukkot celebrates a time when all nations will ascend to Messianic Jerusalem bearing tribute to King Messiah:
Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. (Zechariah 14:16)
The celebration of Sukkot celebrates the Messiah who once tabernacled among us, now tabernacles within us, and in the future will again tabernacle among us. In that day, all nations will ascend to His throne in Jerusalem in order to celebrate Sukkot.