Today’s Gospel passage (John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30) shows that the Jewish feast of the Tents was at hand and Jesus attended this festival “not publicly but in secret” – even when His life was threatened.
This Feast of Tents or Tabernacles otherwise also called the “Feast of Ingathering” was so important that even Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, took active part in its celebration. He addressed the people “in the midst of the Feast” as it is written: “Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
This feast refers to the temporary dwellings that the Jews made to live in during this seven-day festival in memory of the period of wandering. The tabernacle was first erected in the wilderness exactly one year after the Passover when the Israelites were freed from their Egyptian slavery. It was a mobile tent with portable furniture that the people travelled with and set up wherever they pitched camp. The tabernacle would be in the centre of the camp, and the 12 tribes of Israel would set up their tents around it according to tribe. The instruction on how to build the tabernacle was first given to Moses in the wilderness, who then gave the orders to the Israelites.
God dwelled among His people in the tabernacle in the wilderness. He appeared as a pillar of cloud over the tabernacle by day and a pillar of fire by night in the sight of all Israel. The people would not set out on their journey unless the cloud lifted. It was an unmistakably powerful visual statement indicating God’s presence among them.
It should be pointed out that the Tabernacle (an ornamental locked box used for reserving the Communion hosts) today is no longer the movable tent building or booths in which the Jews dwelt during the Feast. For Christians, the Tabernacle is Jesus Christ, “the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands…” (Hebrews 8:1,2; 9:11; Isaiah 33:20) Now that Jesus Christ, the Tabernacle of God is with his people in spirit, it is required of all to celebrate this Feast in his honour. – Revelation 21:3; John 5:23.
In the New Testament, John writes: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) This word “dwelling” is the same word for “tabernacle” in the Old Testament. In other words, God came in living flesh to dwell or to tabernacle among His people. As He walked upon the earth and lived among the Jews, Jesus Christ Himself fulfilled the picture of the Old Testament tabernacle. In that and many other ways, as we will see, the tabernacle really was a prophetic projection of the Lord’s redemptive plan for His people.