Hoshana Rabba, Shemini Atzeret, & Simchat Torah

The feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot is linked up with the 7 days of creation. The 7thday of creation was the Sabbath rest. The 7 days of Tabernacles is part of the prophetic End Time plan, the Millennium, which is the Sabbath age. When the lion & lamb lay down together, when peace is on the Earth, when swords are beaten into plowshares, and Messiah rules, when everything is Holy. That is the Sabbath age.

The 7thday of Sukkot is Hoshana Rabba and is the climax of the feast. Hoshana Rabba is all about the #7 & completing the purposes of God. 7 = completion/fullness/ending in the Bible. Sukkot takes place in the 7thmonth, it has 7 days. All the sacrifices for the feast of Sukkot or divisible by 7 & Hoshana Rabba has 7 sacrifices on that day. Just like all the other feasts in the fall being linked to the End Times and Revelation, so is Hoshana Rabba. And Revelation is also all about the # 7 too! 7 angels, 7 lampstands, 7 bowls, 7 seals, 7 trumpets.

In Jewish tradition Hoshana Rabba is known as the last day of the final sealing of Judgment. The last chance to have one’s sins forgiven for the year.

Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Hoshana Rabba will be the day when the Book of Life is opened along with the other books and the final judgment will take place! There is an interesting ceremony performed by the High Priest every day of Sukkot called the water drawing ceremony. It is rooted in the agricultural aspects of Sukkot. Rain is essential to the growing of crops and considered a blessing from God. The priest would go to the pool of Siloam collect water in his pitcher and walk back to the Temple through the Water Gate. The congregation would follow the High Priest and would sing the Hallel (Psalms 113-118 which is also sung at Passover), music would be played & shofars would sound. The High Priest would enter the Temple and pour the water into a basin sitting next to the altar.

This ceremony held a deeper significance than just for agricultural rain. This rain represented the Holy Spirit, and the water drawing ceremony pointed to that day when, according to the prophet Joel, God would rain His Spirit upon the Israelites (Joel 2:28) The Rabbi’s associated the custom with Isaiah 12:3, “With joy shall you draw water from the wells of salvation” The prayer on every worshiper lips was “May God send His Spirit upon us now”.

The water drawing ceremony took on a new dimension when Jesus attended Hoshana Rabba, this feast’s name literally means the “the Great Hosanna”. Not only do they do the water drawing ceremony on this day, but they also circle around the altar 7 times waving the Lulav & Etrog, sounding the shofar after each lap, & crying Hosanna which means “save now”!

John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

It was in the midst of the water pouring, shofar blasting, lulav waving, psalm singing & ecstatic joy on the part of the people seeking forgiveness and in the presence of all the priesthood that Jesus declared in the Temple courts, that He was the Messiah. Jesus invited the whole congregation of Israel to come and drink of the living water, an invitation to those whose thirst for righteousness, for those whose heart pants for God as a deer pants for water. The water that Jesus offers is totally satisfying, and produces a well of living waters springing up into everlasting life. This water represents the Holy Spirit. Jesus was telling them that He was the answer to their prayers.

Jesus also taught in the middle of the feast of Tabernacles as well, but He waited until Hoshana Rabba, The “Great Hosanna” to declare that He was the source of blessing & salvation, and that we are to “drink” of Him to have everlasting life. From this passage we can also see that Yeshua and His disciples observed at least some portions of the Oral Torah (law) and didn’t reject it completely as “traditions of men”. The water drawing ceremony is mentioned in the Mishnah (oral law), and is not in the Bible. To me this shows the importance and significance of observing the festivals of the Lord in some way as Gentiles. It’s obvious that these festivals are of great importance to understanding the Bible and the End Times.

So before we head into Shemini Atzeret we have to go back to that #7 again. We all know that Sukkot has 7 days. Well the 7 days of Sukkot are linked to the 7 days of the Wedding of God’s church. We the church are His bride, and God is the groom. At a Jewish wedding the bride and groom along with all the wedding guests celebrate the marriage for 7 days. We too will be celebrating our wedding feast with God during the millennial reign. 1000 years of celebrating! So what is at every Jewish wedding? A chuppah, a wedding canopy! The Sukkah will be our Chuppah during the millennium!

Shemini Atzeret

Now for the 8thday! The 8thday of Sukkot is a day of Sabbath rest and is not part of sukkot, but is at the same time. I know its confusing and has been a topic of much debate over the years. Shemini Atzeret is a festival all of it’s own celebrating the love of God. In the Lev 23 passage we read in my blog about Sukkot it talks about the 8th This is a day that there are no ceremonies or rituals of Sukkot taking place. No Lulav, no Etrog, no water ceremony, and no eating or sleeping in the Sukkah. It is a day that they quietly enjoy being in God’s presence. It’s like God wants to linger with them after all the joy of the festivities of Sukkot.

Since the #7 means completion, what does the #8 mean? New beginnings, beyond completion, and the start of something new.
This isn’t the only 8thday in the Bible, there are several others. For instance on the 8thday of a Jewish male child’s life, they are circumcised. A death to flesh and a new beginning of life at the same time. It is when they enter into covenant with God. There are 7 days of celebration of the wedding, but on the 8thday is when the actual marriage starts. Just like with the circumcision a new covenant and a new beginning for the couple begins. When all the wedding guests go home and there is no one left but bride and groom. The same will be for us on the 8thday of our wedding to God. The moment where we achieve complete unification with God. Essentially Shemini Atzeret is a New Beginning or a New Cycle according to God’s plan.

Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

22 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah is not an actual Biblical holiday. It is usually celebrated the same day as Shemini Atzeret. Simchat Torah means “rejoicing in the law”.
The festival of Simchat Torah commemorates the closing of the annual Torah reading cycle and the beginning of a new one. Each week in the synagogue, a portion of the five books of Moses is read in a specified order, so that the entire five books are covered during a one year cycle. The scrolls are paraded around the synagogue 7 times, while everyone sings and dances. Each person taking a turn dancing with the Torah scrolls. It is a extremely joyful time and can be quite loud and if you aren’t careful when you spinning around you can wack someone in the head with one of the finials decorating the scroll!

The first portion of the book of Genesis (Genesis means beginning) is read. 2 people are chosen to read, a very high honor, because these 2 people are called “the bridegrooms” The Bridegroom of the Law and the Bridegroom of the First Portion. Actually, some believe that the entire celebration prescribed for Simchat Torah closely parallels the Jewish wedding service and in fact symbolizes the marriage of Israel to the law. The bridegrooms are attended by “bridesmen”, and the procession around the synagogue resembles the wedding custom of walking 7 times around the bride and groom. In some traditions, fruits and nuts are tossed the the bridegrooms while they read, much like what would be done at a wedding.

As you can see the more and more we study the appointed festivals/feasts of the Lord the more we understand the End Times and the book of Revelation. The more we understand how intricate and amazing God is with all the little details. I have barely touched on these details, there are so many things I have not covered. The closer we get to Tribulation the more and more God reveals knowledge to us. It’s very exciting to see His End Time plans coming to fruition.

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