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The Feast of Tabernacles, Lighthouses, and Jesus—Light of the World

Tamara is a Bible student who loves mining the treasures in God's Word and sharing its teachings and applications with others.

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Lighthouses and the Feast of Tabernacles

This study is about the lessons I learned while on vacation in Duluth, Minnesota, which seemed to focus on the themes of water, addressed in an earlier study, and light. These same themes also corresponded to a biblical feast called "Shavuot" or "Tabernacles" celebrated at that particular time.

Lighthouses, which we saw as frequently as we did waterfalls, will be the main focus of this study. I couldn't consider it coincidental that our vacation's two common themes, waterfalls, and lighthouses, also aligned with the two traditional symbols of the impending observance of the Feast of Tabernacles, which in biblical times included the pouring of water and the illumination of the temple. Both the illustrations of water and light provided the perfect imagery for understanding and visualizing God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.

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Jesus—Light of the World

David Brickner from "Jews for Jesus" explains the relevance of light connected with the observance of The Feast of Tabernacles and this festival's connection with Jesus's declaration that He is the Light of the World.

At the end of the first day of the Feast, the Temple was gloriously illuminated. According to the Mishnah (part of the oral tradition of the rabbis), gigantic candelabras stood within the court of the women. Each of the four golden candelabras is said to have been 50 cubits high. A cubit is somewhere between 18 and 22 inches, so we're talking about candelabras that were about 75 feet tall! Each candelabra had four branches, and at the top of every branch there was a large bowl. Four young men bearing 10 gallon pitchers of oil would climb ladders to fill the four golden bowls on each candelabra. And then the oil in those bowls was ignited.

Picture sixteen beautiful blazes leaping toward the sky from these golden lamps. Remember that the Temple was on a hill above the rest of the city, so the glorious glow was a sight for the entire city to see. In addition to the light, Levitical musicians played their harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets to make joyful music to the Lord. What a glorious celebration! The light was to remind the people of how God's Shekinah glory had once filled His Temple. [Dedication of Solomon's Temple and the descent of the Shekinah (visible Glory) took place at this feast (I Kings 8, II Chron. 7)] But in the person of Jesus, God's glory was once again present in that Temple. And He used that celebration to announce that very fact. He was teaching in the court of women just after the Feast, perhaps standing right next to those magnificent candelabras when He declared to all who were gathered there, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life1

— John 18:12

Lighthouses have two primary purposes.

  1. To steer mariners, in dense fog and at night, away from dangerous unseen obstacles such as rocks that would likely result in the ship's wreckage.
  2. To mark safe entries into safe harbors during inclement weather.

Altogether, they are a fixed point of reference used by mariners to safely navigate their journey to the desired destination.

The imagery of the temple lit up on a high hill above the rest of the city resembles a lighthouse. On the one hand, it is a warning of the impending danger of living eternally in the dark, lost and without hope, without Him, and on the other, it is a beacon beckoning all to come to the only safe harbor and the only real "Light of the world." He is trying to lead us to our eternal destination and away from the dangerous eternal darkness and doom.

The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.

— Isaiah 9:2

I can't think of anything more dark, dense, and thickly fogged than trying to navigate this life without Jesus the living Word and His Holy Spirit guiding us through this life and our eternal destinations. And I can't think of anything more fixed and stable than Jesus, our Savior, as our source of light.

Why does Jesus compare Himself to light? As it is with water, we cannot live without light. "The existence of nearly all life on earth is fueled by light from the sun." Just as our spiritual life exists and is fueled by light from our heavenly source Jesus.2

Much like the water, the light was also present in the beginning. The light was the first thing called forth in the creation account, telling us that everything else that was created depended upon the light. Equally, our lives apart from God are dark without form, void, empty, and nothing but chaos and confusion.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

— Genesis 1:1-3

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The Light of the World Who Was Is and Is to Come

Phil Olson, a Messianic friend, explains how Jesus has been the light of the world since the beginning.

"If you read in Genesis it says that on the 1st day G-d said "Let there be Light" that Light was and is Yeshua (Jesus). We know this because it wasn't until the 4th day that G-d created the heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon and stars. So Yeshua was called forth from eternity by His Father at the inception of time. G-d Called forth His Son out of the realm of eternity and into the realm of time"

Potentially, before the fall, the garden's atmosphere was illuminated by the presence of the Most Holy God, in the person of Jesus. Could it be that it was He who walked with them and talked with them? And when they disqualified themselves from their right to remain there, they lost the source of life and light that fueled their eternal existence.

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I believe that Jesus' announcement on the Feast of Tabernacles that He is the Light of the World" is His call for us to come out of the darkness and return to the light eternal.

. . . that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

— I Peter 2:9

In Revelation, we are told that "the Light of the world" is the atmosphere of the "New" City.

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 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 . . . 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.

— Revelation 21:22-23, 22:5

Just as with the water cycle, we see this pattern of light come full circle. Jesus was the light (before time began), He is the light (New Testament to now), and He is the light that is to come (Eternal life).

Light and Evaporation—Resurrection

Let's pull the two concepts of water and light together. Interestingly enough, light is essential in the evaporation (resurrection) process. "The sun (light), which drives the water cycle, heats water in the oceans and evaporates as vapor into the air."3

“Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; Nor can the number of His years be discovered. For He draws up drops of water, Which distill as rain from the mist, Which the clouds drop down And pour abundantly on man.

— Job 36:26-28

We see how the light draws up water. Therefore, light has resurrecting power.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

— John 6:44

In this next verse, we see how He draws us up to be distilled (cleansed), leaving all the bad behind and resurrected to a new life. And again, as with the water, there is a call to come.

The call to light is observed in plant life as well. I have many plants, and every one of them responds to the call by reaching for the light. If I don't turn them occasionally, they will be unbalanced, with all their leaves facing the sun. It is also like a budding plant. A seed is buried in dark soil as if it were dead. When the sun's energy and rays warm the ground, it calls that seed to life to grow up and be resurrected to a new life.

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A Spiritual Example From the Man Born Blind

Jesus gave us an object lesson about our spiritual condition and our necessity for Him when He healed a blind man during the feast of Tabernacles. It is here that Jesus makes His second proclamation that He is "The Light of the World." The first one will be discussed in the next section.

. . . as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.

— John 9:1-7

We know that light is essential to vision. We cannot see without it. This man's blindness is a picture of how it is with us spiritually. Wikipedia online encyclopedia describes how vital light and eye processes are necessary for sight.

. . . the retina in our eyes is a light-sensitive tissue that initiates a cascade of chemical and electrical events that ultimately trigger nerve impulses. These are sent to various visual centers of the brain via the optic nerve, and that is how we "See" If that light-sensitive tissue is detached, blindness is the result.4

The retinal separation described above illustrates how separation from God's light causes spiritual blindness.

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

— Isaiah 59:1

The man was born blind and in the dark represents how we are all born spiritually blind. His parent's particular sins were noted not to be the cause of His condition, giving us the template of all flawed humanity no matter where they came from.

The works of God revealed in this man's story is the restoration of the sight of those who are willing to come to the one whom He "sent," which the word "Siloam" means and be washed, cleansed, restored, and forgiven by the "Living Water."

Light and Water are the first two elements of creation, exhibiting God's work in bringing substance and function out of disorder and chaos. In the case of this man and humanity, sight restored exhibited this reality.

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The Cause of Our Separated State

During this feast, previous to the healing of the blind man, there is another event that explains how we arrived at this place of being born detached from the light.

In this case, Jesus was presented with a woman caught in the act of adultery. The religious ones who brought her to Him thought that they might use this situation as an opportunity to entrap Jesus into making an unpopular decision based upon their interpretation of the law. But Jesus, instead, traps and confronts them with their own accusations against this woman by pointing out their spiritual adultery against God. This returned accusation is delivered by a simple act given in silence.

But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

— John 8:6


What did He write that so unsettled them? According to the prophet Jeremiah, it is very likely that Jesus was writing their names on the earth.

O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the LORD, The fountain of living waters.”

— Jeremiah 17:13

As religious leaders, they knew the Scriptures thoroughly, and they would have connected Christ's actions with this verse. They also would have known that Jeremiah was a prophet who once confronted the nation about their spiritual adultery against God. Essentially their trap ended up entrapping themselves. The Psalmist prophetically points to this scene.

They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen.

— Psalm 57:6

The prophetic accusation in the book of Jeremiah is why Jesus finally said to them,

"He who has not sinned cast the first stone."

They were guilty of the same crime for which they were dragging this woman before Him. Deuteronomy makes this accusation against them in light of what Christ is trying to tell them how they have been adulterous themselves and deserving of the very same.

“If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing His covenant, who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first (cast the first stone) against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

— Deuteronomy 17:2-7

He was essentially saying to them and us through these two events (the blind man and the woman caught in adultery) that they, and we, are all born into sin through an act of spiritual adultery initially committed in a garden long ago. We turned to another "source," which is why we are blind. They and we were just as guilty of being unfaithful with God before Christ came. Jesus was trying to communicate to her accusers that they, too, needed Him and His forgiveness. And that they, also, were in the dark and committing adultery against God. He was inviting them to see that they, too, needed His light.

Jesus did not condemn her.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

— John 3:17

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

— Romans 3:23

She completes the picture by Jesus showing us how we came to the separated condition and how we need to be forgiven, cleansed, and enlightened by Him, whether blatant sinner or seemingly religious.

Water is a relevant part of the story here too. Recall in the account of the healing of the blind man that Jesus spits and makes mud to put on his eyes. Spitting and making mud from the ground seems like an odd thing to do. However, it makes more sense if we look at this through the 'light' of Scripture.

In the Old Testament, spitting on someone was executed upon a person in a state of rebellion. (Deut. 25, Numb.12) Such is the case with us before Christ. The dust on the ground symbolizes the shame, humiliation, and broken-down state resulting from a rebellious existence. So we see that this man is a picture of us as sinners born blind and in a state of rebellion, broken, humiliated, and deteriorating.

The man is next told to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, meaning sent. The pool was called this because of the spring water sent from the physical temple's mount. The flowing water from above is a picture of the Holy Spirit of Christ coming down from heaven. In verse four of John, chapter nine, Jesus tells us that He was "sent." He is showing us that He is the "One sent" who wishes to cleanse us from our rebellion and brokenness so that we can finally see the "Light."

A quote from biblebeleivers.org gives us the application.

"The water is a type of the Holy Spirit which flows from Jesus Christ. It washes away our Spiritual blindness as the waters of Siloam washed away the natural blindness of this man. It washed the clay or carnality from his eyes, and he received both natural and Spiritual sight."6

So we see the "Light of the World," Drawing adulterous and sinful humankind to come to the "one sent" to be washed and cleansed and to have our sight restored so we can see the "light." We all need to be cleansed from our sin, rebellion, and shame.

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The Light Calls to Water

The remission of our sins is the only way to be restored. The following is a verse about John the Baptist, who would prepare the people's hearts to make a straight path for the savior to regain life and sight. Repentance faces us toward "The Light of the World."

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring (light rising) from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace."

— Luke 1:76-79

The "Light of the World" draws and calls each of us to come out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. He calls us all to come and be cleansed by the "Living Water." He wants us to be resurrected from death and decay so that we might leave all of the hurt, pain, and ugliness behind.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.

— Psalm 36:7-9

The entire Gospel story is told in the events celebrated by a feast that also uses imagery from a cycle in the earth. The truth and the light surround us. Everything around us is declaring the message of salvation. He wants us to get it because He wants to live with us forever.

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A Pictographic Interpretation of the Hebrew Word "Light"

We will conclude this study with the Hebrew word pictograph for light. The Hebrew word for light is "or," and it is spelled with an "aleph," "vav," and a "resh."

"Aleph" is a picture of an ox representing something strong and leading, as seen in this lesson. Light is very strong and powerful. It leads in the sense that it draws us, water, and living things to itself and calls all upward.

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle.

— Psalm 43:3

"Aleph" is the Hebrew Aleph-Bet's first letter and represents first things. And we know from our studies that light was first in creation, and Christ was the firstfruits of His creatures.

"Aleph" is also representative of God the Father, and this can show us that light in us comes from being connected to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

— James 1:17-18

"Vav," the second letter of the Hebrew word for light, is a picture of a nail or stake and illustrates connecting things. The nail in a sure place was the Lord Jesus Himself, who was nailed to the cross that connected us with God the Father, our heavenly source.

"Resh," the last letter of the Hebrew word 'light," is a picture of a person and or a person's head and can represent a high person. So we see that the light (the highest person—Jesus Christ) is powerfully leading us and enabling us to connect with and see The Father. The revelation of who He is brought to the forefront of our comprehension.

This year's season and celebration of Tabernacles is now over, but the reflections and purposes of this feast can live on year-round in our awareness and relations with God.

He is the "Living Water" and the "Light."

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Concluding Thoughts From Charles Spurgeon

"O may the Holy Spirit enable us to keep the beacon-fire blazing, to warn you of the rocks, shoals, and quicksands, which surround you, and may we ever guide you to Jesus . . . May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their life-boat, and their harbor . . . let us follow ever in his wake, mark his signals, steer by his chart, and never fear while he is within hail. Not one ship in the convoy shall suffer wreck; the great Commodore will steer every barque in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will slip our cable for another day's cruise, and sail forth with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey him; and, therefore, whatever squalls may occur without, faith shall feel a blessed calm within. He is ever in the center of the weather-beaten company: let us rejoice in him. His vessel has reached the haven, and so shall ours".

“The fox hides to its hole for protection; the bird flies to the wood for shelter; and even so the tried believer hastens to the mercy seat for safety. Heaven’s great harbor of refuge is All-prayer; thousands of weather-beaten vessels have found a haven there, and the moment a storm comes on, it is wise for us to make for it with all sail.”

"As speeds the ship towards the port, so hastes the believer towards the haven of his Savior's bosom"

—Charles Spurgeon

© 2010 Tamarajo

Comments

Tamarajo (author) on November 23, 2010:

Hello Betty Johansen.

I appreciate your visit and encouraged by your comment. The revelation was a marvel to me as well. His Word is so deep and so profound and there is so much we don't see which was something I enjoy about reading your studies. It is those questions that invite us to dig a little deeper that He might "show us the Great and mighty things we do not know"

I do also enjoy how all of creation declares the truth and confirms and agrees with His Word. I'm always looking for the next lesson. : )

These were my two favorite studies and I am glad you chose them to read.

blessed by your visit thanks again.

Betty Johansen on November 23, 2010:

Tamarajo, I am in awe of you and your insight! Commenting on both of your Tabernacles hubs:

I need to stop here and meditate on all the meat you've put on the table. And marvel at all the beauty!

About 30 years ago, I was in a wilderness area for the first time in my life, far away from city lights. Looking into the night sky was like looking into eternity - and it was a revelation of the vastness of God. These two hubs affect me the same way. To see, through your skillful writing, how God has demonstrated the power of water and light throughout the story of our world, from Genesis to Revelation, reminds me that scripture was inspired by an infinite God. I need so desperately to get my eyes off my tiny world and remember how BIG He is as often as possible. Thank you for reminding me.

Tamarajo (author) on October 08, 2010:

Hello again Healing touch once again thank you for stopping by.

staying focused is a great thought on the lighthouse too. We are to stay focused on the light the light of the world as we move through storms, fogginess, and the darkness of life. I like that.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Laura Arne from Minnetonka, MN on October 07, 2010:

Tamarajo,

I really enjoyed this hub and learned a lot. I have always found such peace in light houses. I am a christian and have a beautiful light house and verse from the bible on my wall. It is always reminding myself and my family to stay focused on the lord and keep the light bright.

Glad to follow you. I work in St. Louis park MN.

Tamarajo (author) on October 07, 2010:

I appreciate your thoughtful commentary Rev Lady

Tamarajo (author) on October 07, 2010:

Hi Fred the quotes are from made from messianic believers who out of respect for his name spell it that way

Thank you for stopping by

RevLady from Lantana, Florida on October 05, 2010:

Tamarajo,

A great commentary on the feast of tabernacles in relation to Light and light houses. Very interesting read and I appreciate the time you put into making it an excellent read. God bless you!!

Forever His,

fred allen from Myrtle Beach SC on October 05, 2010:

I thank you for your support too! BTW why are we spelling G-d without the o?

Tamarajo (author) on October 05, 2010:

Thank you Fred I appreciate your visit and encouraging commentary.

His truth never ceases to fascinate me.

fred allen from Myrtle Beach SC on October 05, 2010:

You are gifted! Some people inspire me, some remind me of truths that I already know. You inspire me and teach me that which i did not already know, and I've been around a while! Thank you G-d for tamarajo!

Tamarajo (author) on October 05, 2010:

Thank you lifegate. The first one is from the actual vacation and the last one is in my back yard.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on October 05, 2010:

TJ,

Thanks once again. Your hubs are always meaningful. Just as a side note--I loved the pics!

Tamarajo (author) on October 05, 2010:

Thank you creativeone for your thoughtful comment. Always a blessing for you to stop by. Happy you were enlightened by the hub.

Benny Faye Ashton Douglass from Gold Canyon, Arizona on October 04, 2010:

Thank you Tamarajo, for an uplifting and enlightening hub, it was such a breath of fresh air.Thank you for sharing such an instrumental hub. God bless you. creativeone59

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