Good day or evening, wherever you are, in the name of the Lord. I’m Ty Alexander Huynh, Elder Minister and Teacher of Mashiach Yeshua – Christ Jesus. Welcome to the second Sukkot/Tabernacles service, which also celebrates what is called Shemini Atzeret [“shee-mee-nee æt-sah-reth”], which means the “Eighth [Day] Assembly” or is sometimes translated as “The Last Great Day.”
This is also the last in a series focusing on the High Holidays or High Holy Days, which in Hebrew is called “The Days of Awe.” If you don’t understand why I conducted services around what only seems important to Jews, then please watch the first service for Yom Teruah, and learn why Christians need to have a knowledge of Old Testament holidays. There is a link on the page for this service.
Last week, we started Sukkot or what is translated as the Feast of Tabernacles, Booths, or Ingathering. I hope your feasts and celebrations during the week went well. In scripture, God called for seven feast days during Sukkot, but I told you last week that I plan for eight feast days, because it is an eight-day remembrance (Leviticus 23:33-43; Numbers 29:12-38; Deuteronomy 16:13-15; Exodus 23:16, 34:22) where the last, or eighth day, has the final holy gathering or day of assembly, which gives this day the name, Shemini Atzeret - “Eighth [Day] Assembly.”
Many believe this day is a completely separate holiday from Sukkot, but the Old Testament does not separate it. It is called the eighth day of Sukkot in Leviticus 23, Numbers 29, and Nehemiah 8 (Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35; Nehemiah 8:18), and does not denote a totally separate holiday. It is only that feasts and living under temporary shelters are called for the first seven days, which seems to be why people separate Shemini Atzeret from Sukkot. However, the two assembly days at the beginning and end of the holiday week are no different than the two days of assembly for Passover at the beginning and end of its week.
So, Shemini Atzeret, today, is the capping off of Sukkot and not a separate holiday. This separation into two different holidays may have been aided by the tradition of Simchat Torah, which is celebrated at the same time as Shemini Atzeret. Simchat Torah means “Rejoicing [in the] Torah [or the Law]” and celebrates the reading of the Law of Moses, but it is not a Biblical holiday. The first record of it appears in Jewish written tradition only since the 1st century A.D. and in Jewish law many centuries later[20,21].
However, Simchat Torah’s link to Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret may have come from scripture for Sukkot stating the Law of Moses is to be read in assembly during Sukkot, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, [the Year of the Shemitah], at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before Yehovah, your God, at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, the men and women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord Yehovah, your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the Lord Yehovah, your God” (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).
Simchat Torah may have also come from the time when the exiles returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, and Ezra, the priest, read the Book of the Law to the people, “He read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day. And they celebrated the feast [of Tabernacles] seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance” (Nehemiah 8:1-3, 8:18).
Wherever the tradition of Simchat Torah came from, it is not a holiday I observe because it is not in scripture. Shemini Atzeret or the Eighth Day is in scripture, though, but because God did not give much details for the second day of assembly at the end of Sukkot, it ended up being much like Yom Teruah in having an unknown purpose and picked up traditions that God did not mean for it.
Something else that appears to have misconstrued Shemini Atzeret is church teaching that links it to Christ and the last resurrection of the dead at the end of Christ’s Millennial Reign, when all who were not resurrected in the first resurrection of the saints will be judged (Revelation 20:12-15). It is called the “Last Great Day” because of links to John 7, where Jesus speaks in Jerusalem at the end of Sukkot, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast [of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’’” (John 7:37-38).
However, if we continue in John 7, we see Christ is speaking of the Holy Spirit coming to indwell within His believers saved by the New Covenant, because, “[In this, Jesus] spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). Christ was not speaking of resurrection, either of the saints or of the second resurrection - the promise prophesied by Ezekiel for the Jews that is attributed to the second resurrection of the dead (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
Instead, I was guided to understand Shemini Atzeret as it pertains to the promise of reconciliation and eternal life in Christ. Last week, I noted how the first seven days of Sukkot reflect living in judgment because of sin, since the call to make and live under sukkahs or tents is meant to remember those decades the Jews were made to live in the wilderness because they had rebelled against God.
But Sukkot is a celebration also, and so we remember how God kept His People safe and nurtured in the desert. God gave them crops of manna and blessings to celebrate, though they did not have all the abundance of the Promised Land, like bread and wine, God still cared for them so that their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell, nor did their sandals break in those forty years (Deuteronomy 8:4, 29:5).
And like that, God cares for us as sons and daughters through Christ, keeping us through difficulties despite our sins, we too can celebrate harvests and blessings in our wildernesses, but like the end of Sukkot, and the end of wandering the desert and living in tents, the Promised Land opens to us in a renewal and resurrection, a new beginning, which is what should be celebrated today, on Shemini Atzeret or the Eighth Day, because in spiritual guidance, the Lord has taught me the number eight means renewal, resurrection, and a new beginning.
Jesus was resurrected on the eighth day of the week, if you don’t reset back to one. He rose after the Sabbath day or seventh day of the week (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1), which also marks His resurrection on this eighth day as the first in a week and therefore also a new beginning.
God also wanted all firstborn sons and livestock in the Law of Moses presented to Him on the eighth day, “The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me” (Exodus 22:29-30). The first seven days were called the “days of purification” (Luke 2:22) and then on the eighth day, the firstborn were named and dedicated to the Lord, which the New Testament records John the Baptist and Jesus fulfilling in Luke 1 and 2 (Luke 1:59-60; 2:21-23).
Aaron and his sons were also consecrated and ordained as priests after seven days, and they emerged from the tent of meeting on the eighth day when the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people for the ordination (Leviticus 8:33, 9:1-9:23).
Later, we will see this seven days of purification and dedication after the eighth day again, in a holiday that is not considered one of the High Holy Days. But to continue speaking of how eight and renewal goes with Shemini Atzeret, perhaps most important, is how it links to Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks/First Fruits or what the church knows best as Pentecost. I spoke of Shavuot in the last service as being related to Sukkot by its celebration of the very first fruits of the harvest at the beginning of the growing season, while Sukkot celebrates the very end of the harvest.
But what does that have to do with eight and renewal? Shavuot comes in two parts. The first is an offering of those first fruits of the year on the day after a Sabbath of Passover (Leviticus 23:5-9). This goes with Christ’s resurrection on the eighth day, and also after that Passover’s sabbath when He died, because His resurrection symbolizes the very first fruits of the first resurrection of the dead – the resurrection of the saints.
Remember the Lord’s Last Supper was a Passover feast (Luke 22:7-23), and He was literally sacrificed as the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), so Christ’s resurrection also served as a spiritual showing of the first fruits of the resurrection of the saints, which is confirmed by the apostle Paul, “Now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits…” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
And then the second part of Shavuot is when the holiday is actually celebrated, seven weeks or 50 days after the offering of first fruits (Deuteronomy 16:9-10; Leviticus 23:15-16), which is when Pentecost happens, and when Christ’s work in the New Covenant was fulfilled through the giving of the Holy Spirit in completeness to believers. This too was a first fruits in that, that very first Pentecost for the church showed the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s working of power in believers of Christ.
So if Shavuot and Pentecost go with the first fruits of resurrection and power of the Spirit through Christ, then Shemini Atzeret at the end of Sukkot celebrating the final harvest of the year, must go with the final harvest of Christ when the rest of us are resurrected at the Lord’s return. This is what most in the church recognizes as the Rapture.
But why doesn’t Shemini Atzeret or the Last Great Day go with the second resurrection of the dead, like some in the church teach? It’s because of the work of Christ and the New Covenant being symbolized by all the High Holy Days, as well as other Old Testament holidays, such as Passover and Shavuot or Pentecost were also mentioned as connecting and coinciding in time with the life and work of Christ and the New Covenant.
The second resurrection of the dead, on the other hand, is not related to that work, but is for everyone who did not make it into the Book of Life through the New Covenant or other acts of righteousness, such as Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and many others in the Old Testament are presumed already saved in heaven. Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus and the disciples in the New Testament (Matthew 17:1-4; Mark 9:2-5; Luke 9:28-33), and they will come with the Lord when He returns with His angels and holy ones in the Rapture (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
The New Testament also often uses the phrase the “last day” to mean the day of the Rapture or first resurrection of the dead (John 6:39-40, 6:44, 6:54, 11:24, 12:48) and not the second resurrection of the dead. The second resurrection is also not of guaranteed renewal and prosperity, which the first resurrection promises and what Shemini Atzeret is meant to celebrate, because the second resurrection is when the Judgment occurs, and all who were not already guaranteed into the Book of Life will be judged by their acts. The New Covenant cannot save them at this time, and even angels will be judged (2 Peter 2:4-9; Jude 1:6-7).
The work of Christ and the New Covenant is all about guaranteed promises – our eternal salvation and resurrection with a place in heaven assured, so long as we keep faith and loyalty to Christ. What do we hold so dear in faith and secure in hope even through death, if this is not true?
And so to line up with all this, it is natural to see that Shemini Atzeret is about holding our faith in God to give His promised renewal, resurrection, and prosperity in the spiritual Promised Land of New Jerusalem. This sequence is confirmed by Paul if we continue in 1 Corinthians 15, which I began to quote earlier, “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death” (1 Corinthians 15:23-26).
Paul is speaking of Christ’s return and the end of this age, when He takes control of the kingdom for God during the Millennial Reign, until all His enemies are under His feet and death is abolished, which will only happen at the end of that reign after Satan is defeated for the last time and death, also, is swallowed up to make way for the New Heaven and Earth (Revelation 20:7-21:4).
Now I hope you see all the connections the Old Testament holidays have with the life and promises of Christ. God hid these connections in scripture for thousands of years until it was time for them to come forward and be understood. And so may you embrace this and rejoice today, Shemini Atzeret - the eighth and last day of Sukkot, to remember the Lord’s promises are sure, and keep hope in His lovingkindness and renewal, which is real and everlasting prosperity and renewal that often comes after much trial and tears.
The first holiday in this series, Yom Teruah – the Day of Trumpets or Shouting, went with the birth of Christ and His anointment as King to bring a new age. Then Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement, went with Christ’s ministry and death to bring the New Covenant and atone for our sin. And Sukkot, which remembers times of hardship because of sin, but also celebrates God’s continued love and care for us despite it, and finally the end of Sukkot and remembering hardships, Shemini Atzeret – The Last Great Day, when we can celebrate the hope and coming of God’s best promises of renewal and eternal life. So remember God’s great promises in Christ, and with that may you have a feast with more luxurious foods after service today to celebrate this Eighth, Last Great Day.
At the end of the Israelites’ life in the desert tents, God said, “I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandal has not worn out on your foot. You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or strong drink, in order that you might know that I am Yehovah, your God... You stand today, all of you, before Yehovah, your God… that you may enter into the covenant with Yehovah, your God, and into His oath which Yehovah, your God, is making with you today, in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God, just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 27:26, 29:5-6, 29:12-13).
They renewed covenant with God that day, but that was the Old Covenant – a blessing and a curse (Deuteronomy 30:1, 30:19; Nehemiah 10:28-29; Galatians 3:10), made for society many thousands of years ago. However, the Law of Moses is still in effect if one wishes to follow it (Matthew 5:17-19; Galatians 5:3), but it is not meant for today.
Over two thousand years ago, Christ came to change the laws of God’s kingdom and people, “For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also” (Hebrews 7:12), and Christ was established forever to uphold the change of law, as “the Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever,’ so much the more also, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:21-22; Psalm 110:4) with better promises, as we have seen in our discussion of the High Holy Days and other Jewish holidays.
And if you are non-Messianic Jew who stumbled upon this service because I speak of holidays you cherish, you will want to take even deeper note, because the work of Christ speaking through God’s Hebrew holidays is also meant for you to leave behind the old ways and come to Christ.
The next holiday in this season, often observed by our Jewish brethren, but not one with the High Holy Days, is Hanukkah. It commemorates the re-dedication of the second temple after it was freed from Greek-Syrian occupation in the 2nd century B.C., but it also has ties to Christ and the New Covenant.
How is that possible? Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of renewing lamp oil that was needed to re-dedicate the temple. The dedication ritual required the menorah to be lit for eight days (there’s the number eight again used to symbolize renewal), but they only had one day of oil on hand. They decided to light the menorah anyways and found the lamps kept burning for the whole eight days.
God gave the miracle of renewing oil to re-dedicate the temple, but most people don’t realize that when Christ tore down the temple at His death (John 2:19-22; Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58) and replaced it with the temples of our bodies, He was fulfilling another miracle in the New Covenant – that of giving the Holy Spirit to indwell in every believer, which is God’s everlasting miracle-oil dedicating all of us as new temples to the Lord, for “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Acts 2:38).
It was God in His love and grace, who gave the miracle of oil for the temple of stone and wood, and it is God through His love and grace in Christ, who gives the miracle of dedicating the temples of our bodies with the Holy Spirit. None of us can abide in these graces of God with our own power, and I hope our Jewish brethren realize, you too, cannot abide in God’s eternal grace and lovingkindness so easily as coming to Christ, for remember, the law you try to abide in is a curse “if you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, Yehovah, your God, then the Lord Yehovah will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses… even [every curse] that is not written in the book of this law” (Deuteronomy 28:58-61).
So instead of continuing in the curse of the Law of Moses, made for standards of life gone with ancient times, not for today, and which must be fulfilled by priests giving daily offerings and blood sacrifices in God’s anointed temple, which also can no longer be fulfilled, for the temple of stone and wood is gone and God has not anointed priests since the destruction of the temple to fulfil to the old Law. See now the mass of evidence the Lord Yehovah, our God, is giving you through so many alignments in the law and traditions you up hold with the purpose of Mashiach Yeshua – Christ Jesus.
Recognize the time is ending of the hardening of the Jews against the truth that your Mashiach – Anointed Messiah/Christ (Romans 11:25) was and continues to be Mashiach Yeshua – Christ Jesus, and “Repent… each of you be baptized in the name of Mashiach Yeshua – Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord Yehovah, our God, will call to Himself” (Acts 2:38-39) now and into eternity.
Thank you all for taking part today. We will end this service with some psalms commonly used during Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret, then we will worship, so please stand now.
Before you sign off, may you remember to support our work for God’s kingdom and help the needy with a donation at 3rdCompass.org/donate
There is a link on the page for this service. Anything you can provide will be much appreciated with gratitude and blessings. God’s Spirit of peace, joy, and strength be on you in the name of the Father Yehovah, the Son, Mashiach Yeshua – Christ Jesus, and the Ruach Kodesh – Holy Spirit. Amen.
When the Lord Yehovah brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“Yehovah has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
We are glad.
Restore the captives, O Lord Yehovah,
As the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord Yehovah.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord Ya, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness in You,
That You may be feared.
I wait for Yehovah, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord Yehovah;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord Yehovah commanded the blessing - life forever.
[Shemini Atzeret – The Last Great Day]
[Great Is The Lord]