The Feast of Tabernacles celebrated the end-of-the year harvest. It was a time for thanking God for successful crops and food that would sustain them through the winter months. While they took this time to rest from their labors, they knew anticipated planting crops for the coming year. With this in mind, this feast was also a time for asking God to prepare the ground for next year’s crop by sending rain. The time of the early rains began after this feast, the latter rains fell after the spring harvest of barley and wheat, thus the early and latter rains.
Praying for rain was no small matter to the Israelites. A priestly ritual was conducted each day of the feast. The priest would take the long walk from the Temple down to the pool of Siloam carrying a golden pitcher. A procession followed him singing praises to God; Psalms 113-118 and 120-136 are two sets of praise psalms that were sung during the three annual feasts. The priest would draw water from the pool in his golden pitcher and carry it back up to the Temple. There he would pour the water in the basin that was for drink offerings. Normally, wine was poured into this basin, but during the feast wine was poured into a different basin at the same time the water was poured. While the priest was pouring out the water, the people rejoiced, singing praises to God, waving their lulavs in all directions and shouting the verse from Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” and from Psalm 118:25, “O Lord, do save, we beseech You; O Lord, we beseech You, do send prosperity!”
It was at this time, on the last day of the feast that Jesus stood up and cried out:
“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.’”
Jesus kept a low-profile until the last day of the feast; the last day was a Sabbath day. He waited as the anticipation built throughout the week. The people had been declaring what they did not yet understand. Their minds were set on a natural harvest, but Jesus was giving them access to the spiritual rain that would produce a life-giving harvest in their hearts. He stood up and cried out! Imagine the passion He felt standing in their midst and making Himself known as their salvation. The Hebrew word for salvation is “Yeshua.”
Jesus was inviting them to come and drink deeply of His well of salvation. In Him they would find complete forgiveness, healing, wholeness, provision, protection, and purpose. In receiving His salvation they themselves would become a deep well, filled with life, joy and provision for others.
He used words that would have been familiar to them, words that had been spoken by the prophets, Isaiah and Joel. The Jews would understand the imagery of living water as meaning “streams of life” or the “river of God,” but He was releasing greater revelation. He was speaking to them about being the Messiah that was among them to give them the Spirit of the Living God. Jesus was declaring that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s and Joel’s prophecies.
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring;
They will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses.’ Is 44:3-4
And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on
My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. Joel 2:28-29
Jesus, the life-giving Spirit was announcing that He was the new wine. When the priest poured the water into the basin that had been used for wine, it revealed that the old wine of the drink offering was being replaced by the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. In Old Testament times, the drink offering of wine was given along with a grain offering or whenever a blood sacrifice was made. This is the picture of communion, the bread and the wine fulfilled in Jesus.
Jesus was speaking on the Sabbath day about entering into Sabbath rest through Him. Their offerings would no longer be useful because He was about to complete the ultimate sacrifice and offering on their behalf. He had come to earth to dwell among us to show us His salvation!
The picture above was taken during our homeschool years when we re-enacted this scene in the backyard. As we sang and danced before the Lord, the children all waved the lulav. The “Priest” poured out the drink offering and everyone presented thank offerings to the Lord. We asked the Lord to send the rain on our land and on our hearts and to draw all people unto Himself. It is so important that we raise our children to understand the Feasts of God and to know what to look for upon Jesus’ return. The feasts are a fun time for children to engage with truth and plant it deep within them.
We are on the cusp of God’s great end-times harvest of souls. In many places, it has already started. He’s calling on us, no matter what our age, to join with Him in crying out for the latter rains of the Holy Spirit to awaken people’s hearts and draw them near to God. This is the imagery proclaimed in Joel 2:18-32. After the people rend their hearts and repent (Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement), then God will restore the people and release a great harvest! This is the day we are living in….God is ready for us, the laborers, to work with Him to gather in the Harvest and make ready for Jesus to return.
Ask rain from the Lord at the time of the latter rain….And He will give them showers of rain… Zech 10:1