by: Joanne Gosselin, BFP Staff Writer
Have you heard of the Feast of Ingathering? It is another, less common name for Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles which is described in Exodus 23:14–17:
“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.”
The Feast of Ingathering is the last of the three autumn Festivals of the Lord. This year it occurs between October 8 and 15. In Israel it is a time of living in a sukkah, or temporary shelter, as a reminder of the temporary dwellings the Hebrews lived in when they left Egypt. It also brings to mind the shelter of cloud and fire God provided to protect His people throughout the wilderness journey
The Feast of Ingathering is mentioned again in Exodus 34:22–23 when Moses wrote on the second set of stone tablets: “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel.”
While the imagery of temporary shelters is often associated with this festival, the abundance of the fall harvest is another significant theme. The biblical end of the year occurs during the autumn harvest season and the Feast of Ingathering.
The Hebrew word for ingathering in the Tanakh (Gen.–Mal.) is “aseef,” (אסיף) and is #0614 in Strong’s Concordance. The ingathering described by this word specifically refers to the abundant autumn harvest of crops in the Land of Israel, which is much larger than the spring harvest. It is a season of joy when the storehouses are full. It is a celebration of God’s goodness and provision. It is a time to rejoice before the Lord (Deut. 16:13–14, Lev. 23:40). The Hebrew word for gathering crops is derived from the root word asaf (אסף), Strong’s #0622, which has the fuller meaning of gathering for any purpose, not just gathering the harvest. It also means to assemble, receive, take away, remove, destroy, leave behind, restore, bring, consume, gather in, gather together or gather up again.
A more significant gathering than the harvest of crops is alluded to from this word regarding the ingathering of the Jewish people from around the world as they return to the Land of Israel. Here are four of the many Scripture references that describe this prophetic event:
“He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble (asaf) the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isa. 11:12).
“And now the LORD says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered (asaf) to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength)” (Isa. 49:5).
“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble (asaf) you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel”’” (Ezek. 11:17).
“I will surely assemble (asaf) all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture; they shall make a loud noise because of so many people” (Mic. 2:12).
In addition to the ingathering of the Jewish people, Gentiles will also come to a future, prophetic Feast of Tabernacles that is described in Zechariah 14:16-19:
“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.”
The Feast of Tabernacles (Ingathering) can be seen throughout the Scriptures and throughout the ages. As we enjoy the abundance of crops gathered in this autumn, may we remember the other ingathering that is already unfolding in Israel as Jewish people are returning to the Land.
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