Study Notes

Nehemiah 8:13-18


To review our place in the book of Nehemiah, the wall around Jerusalem was finished. The people then gathered on the first day of the seventh month for the Feast of Trumpets and asked Ezra to read the Word to them. When they heard the Word, they were cut to the heart by it, grieving because of their sinfulness. But then they were told that the day was holy - the Feast of Trumpets is not a day for believers to grieve, but to rejoice.

And so their mourning was turned into celebration. They had a great festival with eating and happiness.

8:13 Gain Insight

On the next day, the second day of the seventh month, people again gathered for the Word.

Notice the progression, because it is a foundational truth that this ministry has been built upon: Verse 12 says that,

Neh. 8:12 ...they understood the words which had been made known to them.

And then verse 13 says that they again gathered together...

Neh. 8:13 ...that they might gain insight into the words of the law.

Because of verse 12, the result was verse 13. Remember that the reason they understood the Word was that...

Neh. 8:8 ...they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.

The Word was read to them and explained for them. They understood it! And because of that, they returned the next day for more. That has been this ministry's assertion from the beginning: If we're being faithful to make the Word understandable, people will keep coming back. They come back to gain insight. They come back because they want to hear from God. They come back because, for many of them, these things are being made understandable to them.

Now, when the teachers are being faithful to make the word understandable, something is supposed to happen next.

8:14-18 They Found Written

I love what this says:

Neh. 8:14 ..they found written...

Neh. 8:15 So they...

"They found written... so they." This is the believers' responsibility! Being both hearers of the Word and doers of the Word. When you find written, do you? When the Word instructs you to bring change, are you bringing change? When the Word says, "This needs to be taken out of your life," is it being removed?

People who are right before God, growing in their personal relationship with Him, are doing what is written.

Unfortunately, the opposite action is common in the church. The Word is made understandable, and yet for some reason those who claim Jesus as Lord don't follow the commands that have been made clear to them. Certainly, that can't be a positive way for a Christian to live, can it? Jesus spoke of this very issue when He asked,

Luke 6:46 "...why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

May we be those about which it is said, "They found written, so they..."

Reading The Old Book

Based on what they found written, we know that they were reading either Leviticus 23 or Deuteronomy 16. It is interesting to me that these chapters, in fact these entire books, that were so affecting the people then are largely neglected by most believers today.

It is a little-known fact that Jesus quoted from the book of Deuteronomy more than any other source. And that book contains the command:

Deut. 4:2 "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

We must be among those that read and understand the whole counsel of God.

The Feast Of Booths

As the people read these things, they were reminded that the Feast of Booths was coming up in less than two weeks. The Feast of Booths was the last of the seven feasts on the Jewish calendar. It was a celebration of the time that they dwelt in booths, or tents, in the wilderness, around the Lord. After they had gathered in the crops of the land (Lev. 23:39), they were to make booths out of branches and live in them for seven days (Lev 23:42).

In Leviticus 23, God commanded Moses, to tell the people,

Lev. 23:39-43 ‘On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. You shall thus celebrate it {as} a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It {shall be} a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'"

Because of these dwelling places they built and lived in, the Feast of Booths is also called "the Feast of Tabernacles," or "Succoth" (Sook-KOHTH), the Hebrew word for "booths."

Also in the Scriptures, you will find this called "the Feast of the Ingathering," because it happened immediately after the fall harvest.

Prophetic Significance

As you have learned, all seven feasts looked back historically at something the Lord had done. But we have found that they were also rehearsals - convocations with prophetic significance regarding the ministry Jesus Christ.

Prophetically, the Feast of Booths pointed forward to the Millennial Kingdom Reign of Jesus Christ on earth. At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jesus Christ will reign on earth for a thousand years, as described in Revelation chapter 20. There are many chapters and references all throughout the Bible that prophesy about this period of time on earth. By one account, 40 books of the Bible speak of it, and there are 2,163 references in the Bible to it!

Now, as with all the other feasts, every detail points prophetically and specifically to its ultimate fulfillment. Let's look at some of these things:

After The Threshing

To begin with, the Feast of Booths happened immediately after a certain event:

Deut. 16:13 "...celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat"

This feast began after the harvest, the threshing, and the crushing of the grapes. We find in prophecy that there will be a harvest, threshing, and crushing right before Jesus' Millennial Reign on earth begins as well:

Rev. 14:15-20 And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe." And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. And another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Put in your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe." And the angel swung his sickle to the earth, and gathered {the clusters from} the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

This harvest, threshing, and crushing will take place first, before the Lord Jesus Christ once again tabernacles among us on earth!


Once the harvest was over, the people were to make tents...

Deut. 16:15 " the place which the LORD chooses"

The place that God chose for the tabernacle to have a permanent home was the City of David - Jerusalem.

They gathered around the place where God established His temple, remembering when God was in their midst in the wilderness.

The Bible tells us that this is the very city from which the Lord Jesus Christ will rule and reign on earth, and that His people will surround Him, He will be in their midst.

Everyone Is To Come

This was also one of the three times that attendance was mandatory.

Deut. 16:16 "Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed."

The Jewish males were to come to Jerusalem every year. But that requirement was expanded somewhat. You see, every seven years, there was a time when debts were to be forgiven. It "just so happens" that the Feast of Booths coincides with that time on the calendar.

Deut. 31:10-13 Then Moses commanded them, saying, "At the end of {every} seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD 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 the women and children and the alien who is in your town, in order that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. And their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess."

On the years when remission of debts took place, not only every Jewish male, but all inhabitants of Israel were to come to Jerusalem - Jew and Gentile alike. And they would do so for a specific purpose:

Deut. 31:12-13 " order that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. And their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God..."

The prophetic fulfillment of this will happen when, in the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus is going to demand attendance not only of every inhabitant of Israel, but of all the nations.

Zech. 14:16-19 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no {rain will fall} on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

The sinfulness of man is evident in the Millennial Kingdom. There will be rebellion. Even when living at a time when Christ is the King of the earth, mankind will still fall into sin.

This king will be accessible. Zechariah was told by the Lord,

Zech. 8:20-22 '...{It will} yet {be} that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. And the inhabitants of one will go to another saying, "Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts; I will also go." So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.'

Take a trip to Israel and meet with the Lord personally! That is what the Millennial Kingdom will offer! They will assemble in Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths and they will hear the Word of God from the Living Word of God! But not everyone will come. There will be rebellion.

And we can't blame this rebellion on the devil, because at the beginning of this rebellion,

Rev. 20:1-3 angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut {it} and sealed {it} over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer...

However, when many members of mankind prove that they will always reject the rule of the Lord, satan will be released again.

Rev. 20:-97 And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

Without any effort, God will decimate those who violently reject His right to reign. And this leads us into another interesting detail about the Feast of Booths symbolizing the Millennium.

Sabbaths At Beginning And End

Notice that the Feast of Booths included...

Lev. 23:39 ...a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.

In the middle, they worked.

The Millennium is going to be the same way, beginning and ending with a rest.

At the tail of seven years of nightmarish judgment poured out on the earth, the Jews will be hiding out, persecuted, almost decimated. Those in Jerusalem will be in the midst of a horrifying attack...

Zech. 12:3 "...And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it."

But the Lord will return and restore all things (Acts 3:21). The Millennium will be ushered in with a rest for God's people.

During most of the next thousand years, God's people will be ruling in authority (Luke 19, etc.), working in the Lord's administration. But at the end, when satan and the nations come against the Lord and are wiped out, we will experience rest again. After all, when all the enemies of God are wiped out, who needs to rule with a rod of iron anymore?

Solemn Assembly

Notice that in verse 18, we read that,

Neh. 8:18 ...on the eighth day {there was} a solemn assembly according to the ordinance.

This is prophetic of the Millennium's end when the Great White Throne Judgment occurs. A day when everyone will be judged according to their works.

Rev. 20:15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

This will be a solemn day indeed.

End And Beginning

Now, as we said before, this is the final feast of the seven.

Exod. 23:16 "Also {you shall observe} the Feast of the Harvest {of} the first fruits of your labors {from} what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in {the fruit of} your labors from the field.

When the feast was over, so was the year. And so too, will be the Millennial Kingdom. At its end, heaven and earth will pass away, with no place found for them (Rev. 20:11; Luke 21:33).

Rev. 20:11 And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.

But interestingly, Exodus 34 uses language that's a bit different.

Exod. 34:22 "And you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, {that is,} the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.

The Feast of Booths, or the Ingathering, is not just considered to be at the end of the year, but also at the turn of the year, the beginning of a new one.

The end of the Millennium is the end of this age, and the beginning of the age to come. (We covered that in depth in our study of Ephesians 1:21-23.)

Just like the Feast of Booths, the Millennium is going to be both the end and the beginning.

Go to next study

Go to previous study