During the Feast of Tabernacles the children of Israel went camping. Personally, I prefer hammock camping, but they had some regulations and had to use a tent (also called tabernacles, or booths) constructed from trees. In West Virginia, wilderness camping means go to Dolly Sods and camping amongst the bears in the wild. But for the children of Israel, wilderness camping meant something else. Leaving Egypt and wandering in the wilderness before entering the promised land for 40 years was wilderness camping for Israel.
God established an annual, weeklong camping trip/feast, where they gathered together and lived in tents like their forefathers did when they left Egypt (Leviticus 23:42-44). Every year, away from home, they and remembered the old days and how God delivered their ancestors from Pharaoh and brought them into the good land, flowing with milk and honey. They also recalled, though God kept His promise, it was because of the disobedience and hard hearts of their forefathers, they spent 40 years in booths, rather than a couple weeks. “I know you want to go back home Johnny, but imagine living like this for 40 years!”
The Feast of Tabernacles wasn’t just a family reunion, it was a solemn feast, a religious festival. They rejoiced in God’s goodness, in faith and thanksgiving (Deuteronomy 16:13-15). A weeklong Thanksgiving (sounds good to me!) praising the Lord for the blessing in harvest and the hope God will bless in the future. They took a week after the hard work of harvest was over, and praised God for his goodness, mercy, and provision – He is the covenant keeping God.
The feast of tabernacles was also a bloody week because there where a whole lot of sacrifices – 191 meat offerings, 191 drink offerings and 199 animal sacrifices. So much bloodshed and offering, just in this one week, but it never appeased God’s wrath. Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. The sin was never taken away. Day after day, month after month, year after year the priests offered sacrifice because the blood of bulls and goats was not sufficient to take away sins. But this man [Jesus Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:12-14). Old testament animal sacrifices picture the true substitutionary atonement and blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. We see in the unmarred, spotless animal sacrifice the picture of the pure and sinless life, body and blood of the Lord Christ Jesus. Most strikingly, we see the inability to appease God’s wrath with blood of bulls and goats. Rivers of blood flowed in the Old Testament sacrifices, but God’s wrath was never satisfied. Only in Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross was it said that God was satisfied (Isaiah 53:11).