THE DISCIPLE'S PILGRIMAGE
Disciples of Christ are on a pilgrimage. A pilgrim is a person who travels to a sacred place for religious reasons. Hundreds of years ago, the Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic to America escaping religious tyranny in Europe. They were on a pilgrimage. In ancient Israel, the Jews journeyed to Jerusalem for the three pilgrim feasts. Those feasts are Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavu’ot) and Tabernacles (Sukkot). The Feast of Tabernacles tells the story of a disciple’s sojourn from salvation to fulfillment. If you are a disciple, you are called to this pilgrimage.
When our children were young, we often snuggled together to read Pilgrim’s Progress. We had a seventy-five year old book with amazing comic strip sketches. The book depicted the journey of Pilgrim in allegorical terms. It illustrated Pilgrim being saved, his burden of sin rolling off his back, his fight against distractions and temptation, and finally, his crossing over the Jordan to arrive at the celestial city (heaven). It was very instructive and it allowed us to have many good discussions about our children’s lives.
A few years ago, Pilgrim’s Progress came out as a movie, and what a disappointment it was. I realized it failed to illustrate the victorious, overcoming life of the believer. The focus was on Pilgrim’s struggle until he finally gets to heaven. There were no miracles, supernatural manifestations, physical healings and no personal and intimate relationship with God. There was no emphasis of joy unspeakable, exuberant worship or God’s glory encompassing the Christian life. It was quite depressive.
Our church is Antioch International Church and our emphasis is – “The fullness of the overcoming life.” We just celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles and compared to Pilgrim’s Progress, it presents a much better picture of our victorious pilgrimage.
Tabernacles is the last of the seven feasts of the Lord. It illustrates our pilgrimage from here to the millennial reign of Christ. Notice how this present age ends: “A day of the Lord is coming…On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem … Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him …The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name … Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of tabernacles.” Zech. 14:1,4,5,9,16
The first illustration of the Feast of Tabernacles reminds us that it is not only for the Jews. As we just read, in the millennium all nations will be required to go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
The second illustration is the tabernacle, (sukkah, booth or hut) that all native-born Israelites were commanded to build and live in for eight days.
It was a fragile structure that the wind could blow through and the stars could be seen peering through its roof. It is a reminder of the huts that the children of Israel lived in as they journeyed through the wilderness for forty years after their exodus from Egypt. It is a picture of our frail lives, as we journey through the wilderness of the world on our pilgrimage to the promised land.
The third illustration is called the water-drawing ceremony. For six days during the Feast, the High Priest led a group of Levites to the pool of Siloam and back to the temple. They played instruments and sang along the way. When they reached the pool, the High Priest filled a pitcher with water that he later poured on the altar of sacrifice. The drawing of the water illustrated the drawing of the Holy Spirit. It was a prayer to God for both the natural and the spiritual rain to come. It symbolized the ingathering of an abundant harvest at the end of the growing season, and it was a fervent request for a spiritual awakening and revival. Jesus spoke in reference to this. “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me…streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit …” Jn.7:37-39
The fourth illustration involved God’s fire. When the temple was first built and dedicated by King Solomon, God sent the fire of heaven. It consumed the sacrifice and released the Shekinah glory. This happened during the Feast of Tabernacles a thousand years before Christ came. The Jews remembered this and prayed for God’s fire to fall again. That is why, in Jesus’ time, the priest celebrated with fire. Every evening during the Feast they lit up the Temple Mount with huge candelabras of fire.
Jesus had spoken in reference to the water and the coming revival, then he spoke in reference to the fire as well. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jn. 8:12
The fifth illustration involved the waving of tree branches to welcome the coming of the Messiah. We see this theme in Scripture when Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey and also in Revelation 7:9 as the saints welcome the second coming of Christ. This is a celebration of the coming reign of Christ over the whole earth!
The story of our pilgrimage is best told by the Feast of Tabernacles and this is why we should celebrate it.
1.The pilgrimage of Tabernacles is for all disciples and not just for redeemed Jews.
2. Our journey on earth is frail like the fragile booth. We are totally dependent on God for our life and wellbeing.
3. On this journey we must draw the water, the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit, an intimate relationship with the Lord leading us forward with supernatural signs and wonders.
4. Our pilgrimage must include God’s fire, the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. We need the glory of God covering us as we worship, step forward in faith and demonstrate His miraculous power.
Our overcoming journey is exciting from start to finish.
We eagerly wait for and welcome the Second Coming of Christ and His millennial reign.
Are you on the Feast of Tabernacles pilgrimage? Are you enjoying the journey of the Spirit-filled life?
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DR. PETER WYNS
Founder & President
Christian for Messiah Ministries
Pastor at Antioch International Church
Instructions in Righteousness is produced by “Christians for Messiah Ministries” (CFM). Dr. Peter Wyns is the President of CFM and the Head Pastor of Antioch International Church. He has served as a pastor for 54 years and ministered in more than 45 nations.