This week our post is early, I am so excited!
One of my favorite holidays, Sukkot, begins Wednesday, October 4 at sunset and ends Wednesday, October 11at nightfall.
Many of my Christian friends may only be vaguely familiar with the word Sukkot which means booths in Hebrew. Sukkot is literally the Feast of Booths, or commonly translated as Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of the Ingathering. Sukkot is the Biblical Jewish celebration occurring by the LORD's decree on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei in Autumn, lasting for 7 days. During the existence of the Jerusalem Temple it was one of the Three Festivals on which the Israelites were commanded by God for all who were able to make a pilgrimage to the Temple.
"The LORD said to Moses, 'Say to the Israelites: "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present food offerings to the LORD, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the LORD. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work. (“ ‘These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the LORD—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day.
38These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.)
“ ‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ ” Leviticus 23:33-44 NIV
As children of the Most High God, we are called to be set apart, holy, different. The Lord commanded us to celebrate His appointed days. These are Passover, Pentecost and Sukkot. Passover points to Christ's crucifixion as a fulfillment of God's redemption in light of the freeing of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Pentecost, the Celebration of the First Fruits and is the arrival of the Holy Spirit upon believers in Acts. Sukkot is the anticipation of Christ's second coming and our gathering with Christ in Heaven.
The celebration at Plymouth with the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians are the acknowledged founders of our American Thanksgiving. Gratefulness to the Creator's gifts was part of the Wampanog traditions as well as the English colonists. Before England existed, the Hebrew people were gathering to acknowledge a time of remembrance for God's provision for His people. John 7 records Jesus going up from Galilee for the Feast of Tabernacles. From Moses forward to October 2017, the Children of Israel, and those adopted into the family of God are joining to celebrate thankfulness for His gifts. So how is this applicable to our lives today?
First, I think every day is a good day to celebrate the faithfulness of our God who is the same today as he was in Genesis and who will be the same tomorrow. Having reason to gather with friends over food is ALWAYS a good idea. More importantly, this earth is NOT our home! Everything we see around us is temporal. Our struggles, the pressures to succeed, the greed and immorality around us will all end when Christ comes with a shout. We, brothers and sisters in Christ, are aliens in a foreign land, like Abraham.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10 NIV
I love Sukkot, because, like our American Thanksgiving, it's about gathering with friends and family to enjoy great food outside with nice Autumn weather to express gratitude to our Lord for all His infinite blessings. I love the thought of sitting outside with those I love and looking to the sky in anticipation of it opening for Christ's return. I encourage you to start a new tradition with your family. Don't complicate it. Your celebration of "Booths" can be as simple as eating outside this weekend, going to a park for a picnic or joining with friends for a backyard cookout. Talk with your children about God's provision to the Israelites for the forty years in the desert and His faithfulness to us every single day. Next year, make a simple "booth" to sit under (there are lots of instructions on the internet, see Chabad.org). Your kids will have a blast decorating it with branches and fruit. (It's a great excuse for doing some tree pruning.) Invite a few friends or neighbors to join you. Let's start a Sukkot revival!
Holy Father God, You are faithful. All our hope is in You. May You open our eyes to all the wonderful gifts that have been provided to us, the most important being the gift of salvation through Your Son, Yeshuah ha Messiach. Help us to teach our children to be grateful and generous, as You are generous to us. Thank you for Your Presence in our lives. May we seek Your heart, and not Your hand. May we be the difference You desire to see in the world around us. Amen