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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Feast of Tabernacles / Booths / Sukkot? (Part 1)

The Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths and Sukkot, is one of the three feasts that those who are part of the Commonwealth of Israel are to observe each year by going to “appear before Yahweh your Elohim in the place which He shall choose” (Deuteronomy 16:16). The importance of the Feast of Tabernacles can be seen in how many places it is mentioned in Scripture. In the Bible we see many important events that took place at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. For one thing, it was at this time that Solomon’s Temple was dedicated to Yahweh (1 Kings 8:2).

It was also at the Feast of Tabernacles that the Israelites, who had returned to rebuild the temple, gathered together to hear Ezra proclaim the Word of God to them (Nehemiah 8). Ezra’s preaching resulted in a great revival as the Israelites confessed their sins and repented of them. It was also during this Feast that Yeshua said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37–39).

Continues in Part 2

What is the Feast of Tabernacles / Booths / Sukkot? (Part 2)

The Feast of Tabernacles takes place on the 15th of the Hebrew month Tishri. This is the seventh month on the Scriptural calendar and usually occurs in late September to mid-October. The feast begins five days after the Day of Atonement and at the time the fall harvest had just been completed. It was a time of joyous celebration as the Israelites celebrated God’s continued provision for them in the current harvest and remembered His provision and protection during the 40 years in the wilderness.

The Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned multiple times in Scripture, sometimes called the Feast of the Ingathering, the Feast to Yahweh, or the Feast of Booths (Exodus 23:16; Deuteronomy 16:13). As one of the pilgrim feasts it was also the time when they brought their tithes and offerings to the Temple (Deuteronomy 16:16). With the influx of people coming to Jerusalem at that time, we can only imagine what the scene must have been like. Thousands upon thousands of people coming together to remember and celebrate God’s deliverance and His provision, all living in temporary shelters or booths as part of the requirements of the feast. During the seven-day period, so many sacrifices were made that it required all twenty-four divisions of priests to be present to assist in the sacrificial duties.

I noticed that the gathering lasts 8 days. Is the Feast of Tabernacles 7 days or 8 days?

The Feast of Tabernacles is 7 days and The “Eighth Day” is the Sabbath day after the 7 days have come to an end. On the “Eighth Day”, we do things different and our message is usually directed at all the Scriptures that talk about the 8th day, of which there are many. These two festivals combined last for eight consecutive days (Leviticus:23:33-39 ) and picture the final steps in God's master plan to bring all of humanity into His eternal family.

Is there value today for Christians to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and The Eighth Day?

Paul the apostle adressed this very thing in Collossians 2:16-17 when he said, "Therefore, do not let anyone judge your eating and drinking with regard to a festival (like Sukkot), a New Moon celebration, or a Sabbath day since these are shadows of the things that are to come..."

While Paul was talking about some people who had come in and "judged in error" the behavior of the believers in Colossae because they were not "ascetic enough", he notes in the present tense (30 years after the resurrection) that these "festivals are still a sign (Genesis 1:14) of the plan of redemption that continues to unfold today.

Add to that what the prophet Zechariah 14:16-19 says about the Millennium Kingdom and how all will be required under punishment to come up and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

What better way is there to understand the plan of redemption as the Scriptures unfold it in the "rehearsing" of the Feasts each year!

What are The Four Species and how do they fit into the celebration?

"On the first day, you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree, and brook willows, and you will rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim for seven days." Leviticus 23:40

Another observance during Sukkot involves what are known as the Four Species (arba minim in Hebrew) or the lulav and etrog. We are commanded to take these four plants and use them to "rejoice before Yahweh."

  • Etrog
  • Palm branchs (lulav)
  • Two Willow Branches
  • Three Myrtle Branches

The four species in question are an etrog (a citrus fruit similar to a lemon native to Israel; in English it is called a citron), a palm branch (in Hebrew, lulav), two willow branches (aravot) and three myrtle branches (hadassim). The six branches are bound together and referred to collectively as the lulav, because the palm branch is by far the largest part. The etrog is held separately. With these four species in hand, one recites a blessing and waves the species in all six directions (east, south, west, north, up and down), symbolizing the fact that God is everywhere.

Stand facing the east (or whatever direction is toward Jerusalem from where you are). Take the etrog in your left hand with the stem (green tip) up and the pitam (brown tip) down. Take the lulav (including the palm, myrtle and willow branches bound together) in your right hand. Bring your hands together and recite the blessing below. After you recite the blessing, turn the etrog so the stem is down and the pitam is up. Be careful not to damage the pitam! With the lulav and etrog together, gently shake forward (East) three times, then pull the lulav and etrog back in front of your chest. Repeat this to the right (South), then over your right shoulder (West), then to the left (North), then up, then down.

Here is the blessing we will be reciting:

Blessed are You, Yahweh, our Elohim, King of the ages, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to take up the lulav.

In transliterated Hebrew:

  • Barukh atah Yahweh, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam
  • asher kidishanu b'mitz'votav v'tzivanu
  • al n'tilat lulav (Amein)

Why do you follow the traditional Jewish calendar?

We realize that there are a number of views on the calendar but we haven't studied this subject yet. However, one thing we are sure of is that all the various views that exist cannot be supported in one feast gathering. Therefore, we've decided to support the one that we believe is most correct for the times we find ourselves in. Here's a few reasons for our belief:

  • Some families have their children in public or private school and by Federal law, religious celebrations must be allowed without consequence to the children. By following the traditional Jewish calendar, this is very easy.
  • God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), and to depend on a calendar that requires sighting the new moon (however you define 'new moon') when trying to organize an event of this size is not practical.
  • God has called us to begin a reconciliation process with our brother Judah. Judah has stayed together as a people, largely because of the calendar. We believe it would be against His wishes to automatically alienate them from us because we, mostly newcomers to this walk, have decided we are already smarter than they in this debate.
  • We believe the Torah establishes a line of authority when it comes to matters where there is little Scriptural guidance. It appears that Yeshua, Paul, and the other apostles recognized that authority and submitted to it. The calendar appears to fit into that category.
  • If we knew for sure what was correct, we would do it. Since we don't, we focus on those things we can come to a sure knowledge of and pray for guidance on those things we are unsure of.

How do you handle Deuternomony 16:16 "...do not appear with your hands empty."

The Almighty set up an economic system for Israel that was agriculturally based and designed for the people of God while they lived in the land of Israel. The israelites would bring a portion of their increase and give it to the priests for their service to God in the Temple. We are not a part of that levitical priesthodd (although we are part of the priesthood after the order of Melchisedec).

However, we do believe in 'spiritual giving', recognizing the needs of those who labor in the word, and we believe in common courtesy. Thus, we do have a donation box for those who appreciate the efforts and costs we have incurred in providing this unique opportunity to observe the festival in this setting.

Speakers

What we look for in a speaker is one who studies the Scriptures and can present in such a way as to challenge the audience to want to go and "check these things out." There are some restrictions and qualifications that we put on the speakers.

  • We ask that they believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the promised one sent to Israel to redeem his people
  • We ask that they believe that The Torah is the Perfect Instruction Book on what love looks like as an action and it is applicable to all who are in the Commonwealth of Israel
  • We ask the Speakers to avoid teaching a topic on the calendar, the nature of the Godhead, the Sacred name, and to refrain from making prophetic perdictions.
  • Speakers, whether in a Break Out or the Main Speaker for the day, are asked to take questions from the audience immediately after they have finished their presentation. These questions should be related to clarity issues for the presentation just presented. For the main speakers, after 7:00 PM that night, there is a "Main Speaker" midrash where much greater detailed questions can be asked of that speaker and even tangents can be discussed. There is no real time limit.
  • Note: While we believe speakers have insight into the Scriptures, we do not necessarily agree with or endorse everything they teach. True Teachers desire that those who listen to their teachings hold their feet to the fire, holding them accountable to a very high degree.

    Therefore, it is important that you - the listener - weigh all that a speaker says or writes against what the Bible has to say before accepting it as 'truth'.

What are some things I shoud be aware of at this feast site?

  • Men are not required to have a beard.
  • Neither men nor women are required to wear some kind of man-made cloth on their head.
  • Men are not required to wear suits or a tie and women are not required to wear dresses or skirts.
  • If one is unsure of what to wear, may we suggest "business casual" which is defined as a style of clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear, but presents well. Needless to say, modesty should be considered as we do not want to offend with our personal presentation.
  • Since this is a "Priesthood of Believers" feast, men and women can fill the same offices, i.e., leader, teacher, elder, etc.
  • All are expected to conform to the Scriptual mandate of behavior of one being actively led by the Spirit.
  • Clothing should fall within the guidelines of that same set of Scriptures.
  • Alcohol is not required but the Scriptures do recommend it in moderation, should that be something that interests one.

Are you part of the Hebrew Roots movement?

From the standpoint of wanting to get back to our Hebraic Roots, yes. Our approach is very simple: We know that we have "inherited lies..." and so we have taken each of the things we "think" are true and have put them in a corner, taking each one out one at a time to fully examine it to be sure that it lines up with the written revelation of the Scriptures before we put it into our "New Hebraic Based" belief structure.

Therefore, if you were to ask me about a particular doctrine, this might be the response you would get: "I haven't had a chance to study that as of yet. I did give it a preliminary look and it seems to be quite a large subject and so if you have already personally studied it and have published that study with it's conclusions in a public forum and can point me to it, then after the feast, I'll sit down with the elders and the assembly and we'll see if they want to put it on the calendar."

How are meals handled?

If you've seen the calendar schedule, then you've noticed that from 12:00 noon to 2:00 PM during the day, lunch has been scheduled. This is the time in the schedule that has been set aside for everyone to have their lunch. Some will have other responsibilities during this time such as the band, dancers, and those who are setting up the chairs for the next service, but each family and/or individual is responsibility for taking care of their own lunch. Nothing is being provided by fotVA. The same goes for the dinner meal (allocated time is 4:30 PM - 7:00 PM) and the breakfast meal.