OBSERVING the ‘FEAST of TABERNACLES’ is a FUTURE REALITY: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zech. 14:16-19)
The last part of the book of Zechariah pictures the universal blessings that God will bestow upon His people in the final state of world affairs. It is clear that all the people living in the pagan nations will not be destroyed with the rebellious unbelievers. There will be a remnant among the Gentiles who will acknowledge Jehovah God as the true God just like the Canaanite prostitute Rahab (Joshua 2:11), and accept Jehovah God as their God just like the Moabite widow Ruth (Ruth 1:16). These converted Gentiles will come to worship the true and living Jehovah God in Jerusalem (6:15; 8:23).
The worship of these believing Gentiles is expressed in terms of their going up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to observe the Feast of Tabernacles because it signifies joy and thankfulness to God for His bountiful blessings for the final harvest (see Lev. 23:33–36, 39–43; Num. 29:12–34; Deut. 16:13–15). Israel had celebrated this feast when they had returned from their exile (Neh. 8:14–18). The millennial reign of Messiah is the realization of the Feast of Tabernacles, and participating in it demonstrates a right relationship to the Messiah.
The Feast of Tabernacles, a joyous feast of rest and thanksgiving, could therefore symbolize the ingathering of the Gentiles. This festival occurs during the fall harvest season, beginning five days after the Day of Atonement, and commemorated the Exodus, when Israel lived in temporary shelters (tabernacles) while traveling to the land of promise. Unger explains why only this feast is observed during the millennial kingdom of the Messiah: "The Feast of Tabernacles is the only one of the seven Jewish festivals which is represented in this prophecy as being observed in the kingdom age. Why? It is the only one which at that time will be unfulfilled typically and the only one which will be in process of fulfillment by the kingdom itself."
What will happen to those who do not take part in the Feast of Tabernacles? The nations that are unwilling to come to Jerusalem to worship King Messiah and celebrate the feast will be subject to divine judgment. Those refusing to come and worship will suffer drought. Egypt is used as an example, since it was a traditional enemy of Israel. God intends that all peoples of the earth should participate in the Feast of Tabernacles because it commemorates the culmination of God’s plan of all ages—the fulfillment of all of His promises to Abraham! To disobey is to incur His wrath!
Let us understand that observing the Feast of Tabernacles is a future reality! The kingdom age will be a time of holiness and happiness in worshiping and serving the Lord. God’s plans never fail, and He will complete what He has planned before the foundations of this world. This is a great message of hope to all who have put their trust in Jesus Christ, who will live in His presence and spend their eternity in a time of joyous celebrations!