The Hebrews have been told: “He who has not seen the rejoicing at the place of the water-drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life.”
Did you know that Yeshua (Jesus) declared John 7:37-38 on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) during the water pouring ceremony? “In the last day of the, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).
The water pouring became a focus of the joy that the Torah commands for Sukkot. On no other festival were the people literally commanded to be joyful, and as a result Sukkot became known as “the season of our joy,” just as Passover is “the season of our freedom.
The water pouring ceremony at the Feast of Tabernacles was the only water poured out onto God’s altar. This water was literally called “Yeshua” – the waters of salvation. Jesus proclaimed “If anyone drinks of Me” in God’s Temple, which demonstrated that He was (and still is) these waters of salvation. When Yeshua did this, He literally spoke the greatest teaching of Moses. To get to heaven, you must go through these waters to get there. This was the very place where Peter preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). It was also the place where the Rabbis used to teach of the coming Messiah.
When the Temple of God stood in Jerusalem, the water pouring ceremony was performed every day of the Feast of Tabernacles. The priests of the Most High God were divided into three divisions during this daily special ceremony for Sukkot. One division for the Altar, one for the willows, and one for the waters.
The first division was the priests on duty for that festival. They would slay the sacrifices found in Numbers 29. Prior to the first group’s ascension of the Altar, a second group of priests went out the Eastern Gate of the Temple and went to the Motzah Valley (where the ashes of the red heifer were dumped at the beginning of the Sabbath). There they would cut willows. The willows had to be 25 feet in length. After this, they would form a line with all the priests holding a willow. About 25 or 30 feet behind this row of priests, allowing room for the willows, would be another row of priests with willows. So, there would be row after row of the willows.
The whole road back to the temple … was lined with pilgrims as they went to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival as they were commanded by God to do. Sukkot (Tabernacles), along with Shavuot (Pentecost) and Pesach (Passover), were known as the pilgrimage festivals (Deuteronomy 16:16).
There would be a signal and the priests would step out with their left foot, and then step to the right [cadence], swinging the willows back and forth. Meanwhile a third group of priests, headed by the High Priest, went out the gate known as the Water Gate. They had gone to the pool known as “Siloam” (John 9:7, 11), which means “gently flowing waters.” There the High Priest had a golden vase and drew the water known as the living water and held it in the vase. His assistant held a silver vase containing wine. Just as the priests in the valley of Motzah began to march toward Jerusalem, the willows made a swishing sound in the wind as they approached the city. The word wind and spirit in Hebrew are both Ruach. Therefore, this ceremony was symbolic or representative of the Holy Spirit of God coming upon the city of Jerusalem.
As each of the party reached their respective gates, a trumpet (shofar) was blown. Then one man would stand up and play the flute. The flute represents the Messiah. The flute player is called “the pierced one.” The flute is pierced, and Yeshua was pierced during the crucifixion.
The flute player led the procession. The pierced one blows the call for the wind and the water to enter the temple. The priests from Motzah walked in a cadence swishing the willows in order to come into the temple. This group then circled the altar seven times. The priests that were slaying the sacrifices are now ascending the altar, and they begin to lay the sacrifices on the fires. The High Priest and his assistant ascend the altar and all the people of Israel are gathered into the courts around there. The people start singing, “With joy we will draw water out of the well of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). The High Priest takes his golden vase and pours it contents on one of the corners of the altar where the horns are. There are two bowls built into the altar. Each bowl has a hole in it. The water and the wine are poured out over the altar, as the priests who had the willow start laying the willows against the altar, making a sukkah. They set the willows upright on the side of the altar, forming a wedding canopy or chupah, which is a picture of the Mature Body of Christ coming together who are made up of organic matter. These individuals lay down their lives as living sacrifices of fire to form one body – the dwelling place of God. The ceremony of the water drawing points to that day when, according to the prophet Joel, God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28-29).
As mentioned earlier, the water drawing ceremony took on a new dimension of meaning when Yeshua attended the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles). On the seventh day of the feast – Hoshana Rabbah, which literally means, “the great hosanna, the great salvation” – the festival activities were different from those of each of the six previous days when the priests circled the altar in a procession, singing Psalm 118:25. On the seventh day of the feast, the people circled the altar seven times. That is why the day is called Hoshana Rabbah, as all the people cried, “Save now!” seven times.
This is when the man who was sent – Yeshua – stood up “and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”(John 7:37-38 NKJV) on Hoshana Rabbah.
May the rivers of living water flow uninhibited in and through you!!!
~ Robin Main
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